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Ben Wheatley
Brie Larson, Sharlto Copley, Cillian Murphy, Armie Hammer
Writing Credits:
Amy Jump and Ben Wheatley

Set in Boston in 1978, a meeting in a deserted warehouse between two gangs turns into a shootout and a game of survival.

Rated R.

Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 90 min.
Price: $24.99
Release Date: 7/18/2017

• Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Ben Wheatley and Actors Cillian Murphy and Jack Reynor
• “The Making of Free Fire” Featurette
• Previews


Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


Free Fire [Blu-Ray] (2017)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (July 6, 2017)

With 2017’s Free Fire, we get an action-comedy flick that opts for a period setting. In Boston circa 1978, Justine (Brie Larson) attempts to broker an arms deal between Irish Republican Army representative Chris (Cillian Murphy) and South African weapons vendor Vernon (Sharlto Copley).

This doesn’t go as planned. After a tense start, the meeting collapses and turns violent, a situation that leads all involved to fend for their own survival.

When we last saw writer/director Ben Wheatley, he delivered 2015’s High-Rise, a stylish but somewhat messy dystopian drama. Heavy on metaphors but light on coherence, that movie failed to come together.

Like High-Rise, Free Fire focused almost entirely on one location, but that remains essentially the only connection between the two. Unlike the subtext-heavy High-Rise, Free Fire focuses on mayhem without any deeper meaning.

Which works for me, as I appreciate the movie’s desire to stick with action and little else. More glib than comedic, Fire tends to play its situations as farce, and that gives it a good spin, as a more dramatic take might wear out its welcome.

As would a longer version of Fire, so its taut 90-minute running time seems more than sufficient. We get just enough info about the characters to suit the narrative and find ourselves wrapped up in the action.

One should expect to feel the influence of Quentin Tarantino here, but I wouldn’t call Fire a true emulation of his style. While we get the kind of flippant, clever-clever dialogue we expect from Tarantino, Fire doesn’t revel in wordplay to the same degree, so Quentino feels more like a spiritual godfather to the film.

While the movie doesn’t allow them much to do other than shoot guns and toss off one-liners, the solid cast of Fire gives it a boost. All the actors flesh out their roles in an appropriate way and let them breathe to a sufficient degree – at least for a saucy action effort such as this.

Ultimately, I can’t claim there’s much to Free Fire, as it offers nothing deeper than 90 minutes of mayhem and wisecracks. Within that scope, though, it provides quality entertainment.

The Blu-ray Grades: Picture A-/ Audio B+/ Bonus C+

Free Fire appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.39:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Across the board, this was an appealing transfer.

Sharpness always looked strong. No signs of softness marred the presentation, as it gave us a tight, well-defined image. Jagged edges and moiré effects remained absent, while edge haloes also failed to appear. Print flaws stayed absent as well.

Like most modern films of this sort, Fire went with teal and orange. These tones seemed predictable, but they worked fine within the movie’s design parameters and showed good delineation.

Blacks were dark and tight, while shadows showed nice clarity and smoothness. I thought this was a consistently strong image.

I also felt pleased with the film’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack. With a fair amount of action on display, the mix used the channels in an involving manner throughout the majority of the film.

This meant gunfire and other mayhem all around the room, and the elements connected in a concise, smooth manner. Add to that music as a bold partner and the soundscape turned into an aggressive partner.

Audio quality always satisfied. Music was dynamic and full, and effects followed suit; those components came across as accurate and well-developed. Speech seemed distinctive and crisp, without edginess or other issues. Everything impressed in this strong soundtrack.

As we head to extras, we find an audio commentary with director Ben Wheatley and actors Cillian Murphy and Jack Reynor. All three sit together for a running, screen-specific look at story and characters, sets and locations, cast and performances, period details, music, stunts and action, and connected domains.

Of the three participants, Wheatley does the heavy lifting, as he presents the meatiest parts of the discussion. The actors occasionally toss out some useful notes, but they tend to joke around more than anything else. Still, Wheatley does enough to make this a mostly informative track, albeit one that never really excels.

The Making of Free Fire runs 15 minutes, 58 seconds. The program features Wheatley, Murphy, production designer Paki Smith, special effects supervisor Danny Hargreaves, costume designer Emma Fryer, and actors Brie Larson, Sharlto Copley, Michael Smiley, Armie Hammer, Sam Riley, Jack Reynor, Noah Taylor and Babou Ceesay.

The show looks at the project’s origins and inspirations, story/characters, Wheatley’s impact on the production, cast and performances, sets and locations, stunts, effects and action, and period details. While never especially deep, “Making” offers a largely enjoyable view of the production.

The disc opens with ads for Moonlight, American Honey, It Comes At Night, Swiss Army Man and Ex Machina. No trailer for Fire appears here.

Simple but fairly effective, Free Fire offers a violent affair. It concentrates its action in a tight manner that makes it reasonably unusual and entertaining. The Blu-ray presents very good picture and audio as well as a few supplements. Free Fire delivers some bloody action thrills.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3 Stars Number of Votes: 1
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