From festival buzz to a rip-roaring trailer, Ben Wheatley’s latest is on fire.
It was probably the Empire Film Podcast, but I don’t remember exactly. But I recall over the past few weeks listening to a discussion about director Ben Wheatley’s work in which several great points were made. The most profound of which was that Wheatley ‐ the British violenteur responsible for films like Down Terrace, High-Rise, and Kill List ‐ is becoming a modern master of intimate settings. Many of his films take place in a single location, i.e. a building in High-Rise or a single field in A Field in England, and deliver thoughtful character-driven stories that are also filled with sometimes gleeful, other times unexpected action and drama. It’s all part of Wheatley’s ability to use simplicity in service of atmosphere. And even when it doesn’t work perfectly, it’s at least interesting.
All of this makes his next film Free Fire that much more interesting. The story is simple: a group of unsavory people walk into a warehouse to partake in a gun deal then everything goes wrong. It appears to be primarily set in one location, shot with sweeping continuous camerawork, and filled with rambunctious irreverence. To say the least, it looks like a lot of fun:
There’s an element of close-quarters action that we’ve seen before. There’s a very Tarantino-esque feel to it all. From the intimate setting to the cast ‐ which includes Brie Larson, Sharlto Copley, Armie Hammer, and Cillian Murphy ‐ it’s easy to get a Reservoir Dogs vibe or recall Jonathan Liebesman’s film The Killing Room. But there’s more to it. I’m feeling the same sense I had before seeing Joe Lynch’s Everly ‐ the film in which Salma Hayek plays a call-girl trying to escape her apartment as a massive force of Yakuza descend upon her ‐ or even Gareth Evans’ The Raid.
What I’m saying is that I expect Free Fire to get violent, then possibly get weird. Because you can dress up a Ben Wheatley movie all you want to look like a slick Hollywood actioner, but you can’t stop the man from doing something insane. That’s the magic of his filmography.
Adding to my clear excitement are the reactions from the film’s debut at the Toronto Film Festival last night, including the following:
Relentlessly brutal, darkly hilarious, dash of romance, so many bullets #FreeFire #TIFF https://t.co/b2W862LA3o
Ben Wheatley is magic. FREE FIRE is mayhem. The cast is unreal fun and that's a terrific last shot.
Holy. Shit. FREE FIRE is BONKERS.
It’s time to get hype for Free Fire.
The film made its debut this weekend in Toronto, but will have another showing at the London Film Festival in October before it gears up for a 2017 release. For my part, I’ve got fingers crossed for a secret screening appearance at Fantastic Fest later this month. Pray for Free Fire, friends.