Free Fire ★★★★½

Whatever the cinematic equivalent of a "bottle episode" on TV or a "chamber play" in theater is; I think I'm a fan of it. Free Fire is small-scale black comedy that mostly observes and tracks a mindless shootout between arms dealers and political insurgents. I don't have much to say, really. I love the cast. Brie Larson (the queen), Cillian Murphy, Armie Hammer, Michael Smiley, Sharlto Copley, Jack Reynor...it's a stacked ensemble. The stark contrast between the gritty visuals and juvenile characters works really well as a service to the black comedy; you laugh just as some poor sap gets shot in the leg. Wheatley's meticulous handling of the progression of the gunfight is something I don't think I've really seen before. I like how you can really track the locations of certain characters, their array of injuries and who's left/dead. I think there's enough metaphorical backbone to make the whole thing feel just a little significant and artful, but mostly it's just a good and satisfying flick. Feels very comfortable within the limited premise it sets for itself, and it's refusal to overreach is welcome.

just didn't make the cut in my 25 from 2016

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