Free Fire ★★★

2017 movie viewings, #120. I watched this mostly because I'm a literal "completist" of director Ben Wheatley (that is, I've legitimately seen every movie he's ever made in his career), and I wanted to keep up the streak; although I suspected going into this that the movie would be only so-so, and that I would end up being only minimally entertained, while bored in equal measure. And indeed, that's exactly what happened! Set in the 1970s for no particular reason, it's a super-simplistic tale of an underground weapons buy gone wrong, which at exactly the 18-minute mark causes the warring parties to take cover on opposite sides of a warehouse, who then spend the entire rest of the movie essentially in a fire fight.

To his credit, Wheatley does try to build in legitimate plot development and character progression within this milieu; but by its very nature, it's still just mostly two hours of, "BLAM BLAM! OWWW! BLAM BLAM BLAM! MOTHERFUCKER! BLAM BLAM! AHHH, I'VE BEEN SHOT! BLAM BLAM BLAM BLAM! I'LL GET YOU, ASSHOLE!!!" As an intellectual parlor game it's an intriguing question ("Can you make an entire two-hour movie consisting only of a group of people with guns shooting at each other from across a big empty room?"); but as a finished narrative movie it's more just, "Sure, okay, whatever," the kind of film you might find nominally interesting when out with a group of friends at the theater on a Friday night, then two weeks later promptly forget that it ever existed. I'm glad that the always fascinating Wheatley seems to be gaining traction in mainstream Hollywood; but I'm ready for him at this point to make another Kill List or Sightseers, more narratively substantial films whose thrills are equally for the brain as well as the eye.

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