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Movie Review: "Free Fire"

There are many movies that are worth seeing, but there are a lot of stinkers as well. My goal here is to weed out the good from the bad.

Theatrical Release: 4/21/2017

Theatrical Release: 4/21/2017

Synopsis

Set in Boston in 1978, Justine (Brie Larson) has found herself in a tense situation. She is an intermediary in a meeting between two dangerous gangs. One gang wants guns and has the money to pay for them. The other gang has guns to sell, so the meeting should be pretty straight forward. However, when dealing with high stakes like this, tensions are always high.

Neither group really trusts the other, so everyone is on edge. Everyone is nervous, everyone is scared, and there are plenty of weapons to go around. Unfortunately, one of the gang members had an altercation with a member of the other gang the night before. They still have unfinished business, and when they see each other, the meeting begins to take an explosive turn.

Official Trailer

The Pros & Cons

All movies start with an average score of 75pts, points are then added or subtracted based on each Pro and Con. Each Pro or Con is designated points, ranging from 0-10, to convey how significant these Pros or Cons are.

The ProsThe Cons

The Cast (+3pts)

Characters (-5pts)

The Chaos (+4pts)

Random (-6pts)

The Violence (+5pts)

The Ending (-5pts)

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Pro: The Cast (+3pts)

I liked most of the cast in this movie. The cast was filled with talented actors, but unfortunately, they were not given a whole lot to work with. The writing was poor, which I will get into later in this review, but the actors did the best they could. With Brie Larson, Sharlto Copley, Armie Hammer, and Cillian Murphy, the filmmakers had a stacked cast. The rest of the cast was decent in their respective roles as well, but this would be a very long review if I mentioned every single cast member.

All of the characters needed some work, but the performances were solid. The cast brought their own thing to their respective characters, and it helped set each character apart from the others, by giving each character their own personality. The variety of personalities helped keep the movie interesting, and the cast did a great job of building and maintaining the tension between the characters. I just wish the writing behind the characters lived up to the cast's talent.

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Con: Characters (-5pts)

As I already mentioned, the character development was very poor. This hurt the movie in a couple of major ways. The first was that the actors did not have much to sink their teeth into. This made the talented cast feel like a waste, but the cast was still able to come up with enough personality to make their characters feel unique. It was not enough to make up for the poor character development entirely, but it certainly helped.

The second way that the poor character development hurt this movie was related to how many characters were in this story, and how many roles or groups were involved in the meeting. Maybe I am just dumb, but I had a pretty tough time following which character belonged to which group, as well as what roles they each character played in their respective group. This made the meeting, and the story around it, feel pretty incoherent. In writing the synopsis for this review, this story may seem simple. However, believe me when I say that it was anything but. By adding so many poorly written characters, the filmmakers ended up hurting my ability to follow the story, as I had almost no idea what was going on.

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Pro: The Chaos (+4pts)

One of this movie's strengths ended up being a bit of a double-edged sword. The up side was that the movie felt very chaotic. I will get into the down side later, but once everything started going down, it really felt like anything could happen. There were so many characters running around in complete desperation as they were fighting for their lives, and there was no way of knowing who would do what, or how things would play out. Every character was desperate, every character was willing to do anything to get out of this meeting alive, and every character was mostly just looking out for themselves. Lines were crossed, and the meeting quickly turned into a war-zone of sorts, with bullets flying and bodies falling. This made the movie feel pretty unpredictable, and it kept me watching in anticipation of what would happen next.

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Con: Random (-6pts)

As I said before, the chaos was unfortunately a bit of a double-edged sword. There is a fine line between being chaotic and being random. This movie seemed to see-saw over that line. There were times where I thought the chaos was great, but there were a lot of things that happened that just felt random.

The writers did a poor job of setting up the characters in this situation, so when they each tried to make their desperate Hail Mary, I had no connection to the character doing it. I did not care about the characters involved, and I did not understand why they did some of the things that they did. This made a lot of the actions or incidents feel hollow, and when you have a string of actions and incidents that you have no connection to, it is going to start feeling pretty random and inconsequential.

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Pro: The Violence (+5pts)

I was pleasantly surprised with the violence in this movie. Action movies are usually over-the-top in one way or another. Some are far more over-the-top than others, but most tend to exaggerate the action to some degree. Most action is played as entertaining instead of brutal, and most characters in action movies are able to endure an unrealistic amount of punishment. Free Fire was no such movie.

In this movie, the filmmakers did an excellent job of making the action feel real and brutal. Each gunshot had weight to it, and I really got a sense that these characters were in serious danger. The filmmakers also did a good job of making the injuries feel realistic, as the characters were not walking off gunshot wounds like they were no big deal. The filmmakers made the action feel brutal, dangerous, and real, while the actors made it obvious that their characters felt every hit they took. The action was not over-the-top, but do not mistake that to mean that it was not entertaining.

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Con: The Ending (-5pts)

The ending of the movie felt like a bit of a disappointment. Was this related to a weak plot and poor character development? Absolutely. I did not have a connection with any of the characters, and I had a tough time following which characters were on which side. This led to me not really being invested in the ending, because it felt like just another random event in a series of random events.

Grading Scale

GradeCategoryPoints

A+

Amazing

95-100

A-

Great

90-94

B+

Good

85-89

B-

Decent

80-84

C+

Average

75-79

C-

Watchable

70-74

D+

Bad

65-69

D-

Terrible

60-64

F

Garbage

45-59

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Grade: C- (71pts)

I liked a lot of the actors and the actress that made up the cast and I thought they each did a good job of giving as much personality to their characters as possible. I also really liked the action, as it felt both chaotic and unpredictable, while also being surprisingly brutal and violent. Unfortunately, these qualities were in an overall poorly written movie. The chaotic nature of what was happening was a result of having so many characters in the movie.

Rather than having a lean set of well-developed characters, the filmmaers decided to cram in as many poorly written characters as possible. This made the plot confusing, it made me not care about any of the characters, and it made everything that was happening feel random. This all led to an ending that I was not invested in at all, because I was not invested in the story leading up to it. The movie had a really talented cast, and it had action that felt brutal and raw, but the writers really dropped the ball with the story.

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