Ben Wheatley, the prolific, primary crime, young film director from the UK, has a new movie out this week. “Free Fire,” Wheatley’s sixth film in eight years, is wonderful and fun in its simplicity.
In what can be described as an hour and a half long shootout, Brie Larson and Armie Hammer star as players in a ‘70s-set gun deal for the IRA that goes awry. The film explodes (sometimes literally) into a cavalcade of violence and shouted lines, sprawled out bodies and gunshot wounds. Characters are shot over and over again in the arms and legs, some in more fatal parts, but the film doesn’t get old. It’s a thrill ride, more in common with “John Wick” than Wheatley’s last film, “High Rise,” which was a dystopian thriller set in a high rise apartment that falls into chaos.
Chaos is really the common thread through Wheatley’s filmography, as things rarely seem to go as planned by the characters in them, and often death and bodily harm occur. “Free Fire” recalls to mind other violent films that largely take place in one setting, like “Reservoir Dogs” and “The Thing.” But “Free Fire” is more closed off than those films, and more stylized (though not as much as Tarantino’s later efforts). It’s also polarizing: I went with a group of friends and the reactions were divided, two of us hated it while the other three liked it in varying amounts. It’s not a film for everyone, but if it’s one for you, you’ll know it right away.
“Free Fire”: 4/5 Cigars
“The Void” is a crowdfunded effort from Jeremy Gillespie and Steven Kostanski, who are mainly special effects designers . The film raised over $80,000 on Indiegogo and the majority of that money went towards the creature effects in the film, which are nothing short of wonderfully horrifying. The rest of the film is capable, but really doesn’t do much. It follows a cop who finds a beat up man on the road and takes him to a small hospital where his estranged wife works nearby. It’s late, and there’s only a few people at the hospital: a doctor, three nurses (one of them an intern), a young pregnant woman with her grandfather and a patient. The hospital is quickly surrounded by members of a cult, and monsters are revealed to be in the basement of the hospital and are emerging, hoping to attack and assumably eat anyone trapped inside.
If this sounds derivative, that’s because it is to an extent. There’s a clear love for H.P. Lovecraft and ‘80s horror, which clearly inspired the movie. The film does hold its own to some extent, especially in the creature scenes. There’s good, gory fun to be had here.
While there are some long stretches of character moments that fall flat to an extent, the movie always draws one back in with its moments of horror. It’s a film for genre fans and I can’t see many non-horror fanatics being too into this film, but for those in the loop, there are far worse films to spend your money on.
“The Void”: 3/5 Cigars