Free Fire Review

A low budget film with a very, very simple plot: After a deal goes south a group of gangsters wind up in an abandoned warehouse shooting each other and trading snappy dialogue.

Why does that sound so familiar?

I’m sure it’ll come to me in a second. I mean it’s not like the answer would be number 75 on IMDB’s top 250! That would be stupid.

But unlike other low budget films with similar pretentions towards becoming cult classics *coughTheAssignmen/Tomboycough* this one’s actually going to pull it off. Because it works. It’s not perfect, but it works.

I mean for the first time since…. Hell, Deep Rising back in 1998 where there is no ‘good’ character. None of these people are undercover cops or journalists, no vigilante has turned up to stop an arm deal and started trading bullets. Every single one of these people is a criminal with terrible aim and seemingly unlimited supplies of ammunition, and to be honest the human race is better off without almost all of them. It’s kind of refreshing in a sick, twisted way.

The dialogue snaps back and forth as these characters make and break deal with each other, set up truces that break almost immediately it’s a blast of nihilism.

It’s not perfect though. Like I said, none of these characters is fighting for truth, justice and the American way so it’s kind of hard to empathise with any of them. And after a while it’s kind of hard to tell which bloody, swearing dirty mess is on which team and I couldn’t quite get a handle on the layout of the warehouse meaning that most of the time I couldn’t really tell you what was going on.

But it was funny, my God was it funny in a sick, black humour kind of way. Aside from one person behind me who alternated between sleeping and kicking the back of my seat someone in my screening was laughing about every thirty seconds or so.

All of the cast seem to be having fun with their characters from Arnie Hammer (for once almost coming close to acting) as a consummate professional to Sharlto Copley as an idiot gun runner to Brie Larson as an out for herself kind of girl, every single character has good lines and moments (as well as several bullets in places where they would rather not have bullets)

I don’t want to fall into the trap of overthinking this because it’s not supposed to be some deep think piece on the human condition, it’s a ten million dollar film set completely in a warehouse in 1978 Boston but filmed completely in Brighton of all places and I loved it.

I would have liked each character to have a distinctive item of clothing so I knew what team they were on and it did take a about five to ten minutes too long to get going, and there was just something about the film that didn’t quite click with me but this is a film that’s going to be just about perfect for when you’ve had your mates over and had a few beers.

Now if you’ll excuse me I’m off to work out why ‘Stuck in the middle with you’ is stuck in my head.

My Score- See It



IMDB Message Boards

Like countless movie fans my Mecca is the Internet Movie Database (or IMDB as it’s commonly known) Pretty much any fact that I want to know about pretty much any movie in history ranging from what is La La Lands budget? To, did they really make a film with the tagline Unwittingly He Trained a Dolphin to Kill the President of the United States? (They did, it’s called The Day of the Dolphin and it was somehow nominated for 2 Oscars.)

And like many others, I’ve made a habit of checking the boards after viewing a film, reading up on the fan theories and narrative deconstructions or just checking to see if other people have similar opinions or why their opinions are different from mine and therefore completely wrong and irrelevant.

But as of the 20th of February I won’t be able to do that any more. Because from that date IMDB will be shutting down it;s message boards, claiming that it had “concluded that IMDb’s message boards are no longer providing a positive, useful experience for the vast majority of our more than 250 million monthly users worldwide”, and that the decision was “based on data and traffic”.

Essentially, they belive that the discussion has moved from the notice boards to social media.  And some outlets claim that IMDb’s assertion that the site no longer provides a “positive, useful experience” refers to those trolling the boards. US entertainment website the Wrap highlighted the recent example of Raoul Peck’s Oscar-nominated documentary I Am Not Your Negro being hit with a slew of negative and one-star reviews before its official release date as a tipping point. And you don’t have to wade far into the films’ boards to find them riddled with racist, ignorant and posturingly obtuse comments.

“IMDb say that the boards have been overtaken by trolls, but they could easily make it harder for people to troll, by hindering them creating multiple accounts.” User Dan L began an online petition to save the boards, currently at just under 10,000 signatures. He suspects the invocation of trolls is little more than a smokescreen. He believes the real reason is a combination of much lower user numbers than IMDb is publicising, and the way in which the boards and ratings are being exploited.

“They make bold claims such as 250 million monthly users worldwide. If IMDb really had 250 million users how come the movie with the most ratings, Shawshank Redemption, only has 1.7m votes? I don’t see how they can have 3.3% of the world’s population regularly using the site.”

And sadly, if shutting down the boards was an attempt to remove trolls then it’s failed miserably. Researching Patriots Day, I found that the user reviews are still up, and for every review of Patriots Day that was a genuine review of the film, I found three one-star reviews about how the bombings were an inside job. The swamp hasn’t drained, it’s just migrated.

I’m not going to pretend that IMDB’s message boards were completely perfect, there were threads that were sexist, racist and demeaning, and maybe they were getting quieter (which I don’t believe) but they were also a community of people who loved a particular film or actor as much as you did,or people who could explain why something that I was bumping my head on wasn’t a plot hole but instead just poorly explained.

But I’m going to miss them, troll infested and probably horrifically expensive to run as they are, they were a valuable resource and good source of knowledge.

But what do you guys think?