As Tom Hardy famously said "I came here for a shootout" and if you're fed up with action movies that skimp on the actual action then Netflix (one of the best streaming services) has just added a flick you need to watch. Free Fire is a buffet of gunplay and dark humour.
Starring Cillian Murphy, Brie Larson and Sharlto Copley, this is an action movie antidote to many modern blockbusters, in fact, it's set almost entirely in one location. The plot is gloriously thin (although the characters are not), I can describe it in six words. A 1970s arms deal goes bad.
About ten minutes into the story, the first bullet goes off and from there, things don't let up. That leaves plenty of time for what is essentially one long 90-minute set piece. Director Ben Wheatley has created what must go down in cinema history as the best shootout ever.
The two sides of the arms deal exchange quips and dialogue punctuated by gunshots. It's actually a brilliant way of introducing us to characters, who do they check on? How do they shoot? Are they ok to die? There's no stormtrooper level accuracy either people take hits all the time.
There are plenty of memorable characters but it is Copley's Vernon who has the best one-liners and his incompetent enthusiasm (he has to be reminded to shoot with two hands) and eccentric fashion sense are scene stealers. There are even times when the movie feels almost like a play, waiting for Godot with gunshots if you will. Characters regularly pause to light a cigarette and contemplate the madness of what's going on around them.
Logistics may not be a traditionally exciting thing, but you get a sense of position for every character in the shootout. Put a piece of paper in front of me and I could mark where they all are and tell you exactly what's going on. That's so rare for action sequences. Globetrotting blockbusters can be great but this is a real palette cleanser to the convoluted setups and pretenses that some movies insist on. Free Fire is like skipping your vegetables and going straight to your dessert, and that's why I love it.
Free Fire is now on Netflix in the UK while US readers should check it out on Paramount+.