Free Fire

Ben Wheatley’s latest film – almost wholly set within one Boston warehouse in the 1970s – depicts an arms deal as it goes horribly wrong, leaving two factions and several people in an amusingly long and haphazard gun battle. It’s quite a lot of fun, and the ensemble cast clearly had a great old time of it firing hundreds and hundreds of blanks at one another, with Wheatley explaining during his press junket that his film is partly a reaction to the myth of accurate shooting and ever-reliable weapons perpetuated by Hollywood; here the characters miss or graze one another with their bullets for the most part, and guns jam regularly. Amy Jump’s script is witty and most of the characters do or say enough to be memorable, though at times it’s a bit Tarantino-lite and poor old Noah Taylor might feel short-changed (not for the first time in his career). Despite the short running time, despite the unusual premise and despite Wheatley’s efforts to keep the shootout interesting, my attention started to drift long before the end, and I enjoyed the pre-shootout scenes more than the long battle itself, but overall it’s an untaxing quick fix of action, and for the first time in years I’ve been able to enjoy Sharlto Copley on screen. (***)