A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Free Fire is an ultra-violent, Quentin Tarantino-esque shoot-'em-up set in one location over the course of one night. After a long set-up, characters shoot guns at each other almost constantly, with tons of gory consequences. Expect blood spurts, bloody wounds, fighting, stabbing, hitting with a crowbar, a character's head being run over by a van, and a character stitching up her own wounds. A character is also set on fire, and there's a verbal reference to brutal violence against a woman. Language is also extremely strong, with countless uses of "f--k," plus "c---sucker," "c--t," "t-ts," "s--t," and much more. One character is shown smoking "smack" (i.e. heroin) using tinfoil, a pipe, and a lighter. Characters also smoke cigarettes regularly, and there's sexual innuendo.
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What's the story?
In FREE FIRE, it's the 1970s, and several criminals assemble in a warehouse to complete a weapons sale. Vernon (Sharlto Copley) is the seller, Chris (Cillian Murphy) is the buyer, and supercool Ord (Armie Hammer) is negotiating. Justine (Brie Larson) is also on board, as are several hired thugs. Unfortunately, one of the thugs, Harry (Jack Reynor), recognizes another, Stevo (Sam Riley), from a bar fight the night before; Stevo mistreated Harry's cousin, and although Stevo got a beating out of it, Harry isn't quite through with his revenge. Eventually, shots are fired, and from there on out, it's more or less continuous shooting. Some unexpected snipers even show up. But no matter who started it, will anyone survive long enough to stop it?
Is it any good?
Obviously inspired by Quentin Tarantino's movies, as well as 1970s shoot-'em-ups, this action movie tries to be stripped down and clever, but it only succeeds at being laughably violent. Directed by Ben Wheatley (High-Rise), Free Fire is all 1970s outfits (big collars and lapels, facial hair, tight pants, and polyester), and loud gun sounds. Though the warehouse is an interesting setting (cribbed, clearly, from Reservoir Dogs), Wheatley fails to establish the spatial locations of the characters. When someone fires in one shot, and someone else screams in the next, we have no idea where they were aiming -- or where anyone else is.
Soon, everyone hits the floor, and everyone is a dust-and-blood-and-hair covered figure, crawling on the ground, barely distinguishable from one another. Occasionally it looks as if something clever will happen, such as when the characters discover a working phone in the office, but these things only result in more shooting. The dialogue tries to be witty, but the only thing that clicks is when a character occasionally gives up and simply laughs at the absurdity. Whereas the John Wick movies took violence to such an astoundingly high-pitched level that they became almost existential, Free Fire is far too aware of itself to make any such claims.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Free Fire's violence. Does its over-the-top nature lessen its impact? Or does the sheer volume make it impossible to ignore? How do the consequences compare to those in movies with more realistic violence?
How does the movie depict drug use? Does it look cool or unappealing?
How does the movie's time period affect the story?
- In theaters: April 21, 2017
- On DVD or streaming: July 18, 2017
- Cast: Brie Larson, Cillian Murphy, Armie Hammer, Sharlto Copley
- Director: Ben Wheatley
- Studio: A24
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Run time: 90 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: strong violence, pervasive language, sexual references and drug use
- Last updated: September 20, 2019
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