British release poster
|Directed by||Ben Wheatley|
|Produced by||Andy Starke|
|Box office||$3.8 million|
Free Fire is a 2016 British action-comedy film directed by Ben Wheatley, from a screenplay by Wheatley and Amy Jump. It stars Sharlto Copley, Armie Hammer, Brie Larson, Cillian Murphy, Jack Reynor, Babou Ceesay, Enzo Cilenti, Sam Riley, Michael Smiley and Noah Taylor.
The film had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival on 8 September 2016, and also served as the closer of the 2016 BFI London Film Festival on 16 October. The film was theatrically released in the United Kingdom on 31 March 2017, by StudioCanal UK, and in the United States on 21 April 2017, by A24.
Stevo (Sam Riley) and Bernie (Enzo Cilenti) are driving to meet two IRA members, Chris (Cillian Murphy) and Frank (Michael Smiley). On the way, Stevo tells Bernie that he was beaten up the previous day by the cousin of a woman he abused. The group meet outside a Boston warehouse, where they wait with intermediary Justine (Brie Larson). A representative arrives, Ord (Armie Hammer), who leads them inside. The group is there to buy guns from arms dealer Vernon (Sharlto Copley) and his associates, Martin (Babou Ceesay), Harry (Jack Reynor) and Gordon (Noah Taylor). Despite tensions between the two groups and the fact that Vernon supplied the wrong weapons, Chris' group secure the weapons in a van and hand over the money in a briefcase.
Stevo notices that Harry was the one who beat him up the day before, and refuses to go near him, irritating Frank. Harry eventually notices and lashes out at Stevo, furthering the tensions between the group. Stevo seemingly apologises, but then brags about what he did to Harry's cousin. Infuriated, Harry shoots Stevo in the shoulder. Both groups split off and begin shooting at each other. Martin, who was holding the briefcase, is grazed by a bullet in the head. The briefcase now lies in the open, with Vernon attempting to coerce one of his men to get it.
Bernie is shot in the back by Vernon and dies shortly after. Soon, two men with rifles begin shooting at both groups. One of them, Jimmy (Mark Monero), is killed, the other is recognised by Ord as Howie (Patrick Bergin), who reveals that he was hired to kill everyone and take the money. Before Howie can reveal who hired him, he is shot by Chris's group. Chris, defending Justine, requests that Vernon's group let her go. Gordon crawls after her, intent on killing her.
As the shooting continues, a telephone rings in one of the offices. Realising that they can call for backup, Chris sends the wounded Frank to the office, which prompts a wounded Vernon to go after him. Gordon chases Justine to the warehouse entrance, but she manages to kill him. As Chris, Ord, Stevo and Harry engage in another shootout, Vernon kills Frank after he is severely burned in a trap.
Martin regains consciousness, and begins deliriously shooting at his own group. He reveals that he and Justine were double-crossing Vernon and that they hired Howie and Jimmy to kill the others. He gets the briefcase, but dies from his injuries. After getting past Ord and Harry, Chris gets to the office and kills Vernon. Using the phone to call his associates, Chris is cut off by Ord while Harry distracts Stevo. Returning to the warehouse, Justine takes Jimmy's rifle.
One of Chris's associates, Leary (Tom Davis), enters the warehouse in search of his IRA comrades, but is killed by Harry. Taking the briefcase, Harry attempts to escape in the van, but Stevo fires at him. Harry runs over Stevo, but not before Stevo shoots him. The fire that Frank caused spreads and the sprinklers come on. Exhausted and out of bullets, Ord and Chris agree to stop fighting, take the money, and attempt to escape before the inevitable arrival of the police.
Justine shoots Ord in the head, accidentally shooting Chris as he was "in the way". Chris talks with Justine, regretting having not known her better as he begins to succumb to his wounds. As Justine walks to the warehouse entrance, red police lights are seen outside the warehouse, and she turns in shock as the sound of sirens becomes louder.
In October 2014, Olivia Wilde, Luke Evans, Armie Hammer, Cillian Murphy and Michael Smiley joined the cast of the film, with Ben Wheatley set to direct from a screenplay he wrote with Amy Jump. Wheatley and Andy Starke produced under their Rook Films banner, and Film4 Productions produced and financed the film. In April 2015, Brie Larson replaced Wilde, who had to drop out due to a schedule conflict.
In February 2015, it was announced that StudioCanal had acquired distribution rights to the film in the United Kingdom, while Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions had acquired the rights in Australia, New Zealand, Latin America, Scandinavia and Spain. In November 2015, it was announced that Alchemy had acquired United States distribution rights to the film. However, on 10 March 2016, in the wake of rumours of Alchemy's financial troubles, distribution of the film was bought by A24. The film had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival, and served as the closing night film of the London Film Festival, on 16 October 2016. The film was released in the United Kingdom on 31 March 2017, and in the United States on 21 April 2017.
In the United States and Canada, Free Fire opened alongside The Promise, Born in China, Unforgettable and Phoenix Forgotten, and was projected to gross around $3 million from 1,070 cinemas in its opening weekend. However, it ended up debuting to $994,430, finishing 17th at the box office.
On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, Free Fire has an approval rating of 68%, based on 205 reviews, with an average rating of 6.3/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "Free Fire aims squarely for genre thrills, and hits its target repeatedly and with great gusto—albeit with something less than pure cinematic grace." On Metacritic, which assigns a weighted average to reviews, the film has a score of 63 out of 100, based on 39 critics, indicating "generally favourable reviews."
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