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Free Fire – ★ ★ ★ ½ DVD Review

Free Fire35

Usually the climax of an action film is the shootout, in Free Fire, the entire movie was the shootout!  In 1970s Boston, two sets of criminals arrange a gun deal, but one of the henchmen (Harry) recognizes one of the other henchmen (Stevo) from a bar fight the night before because the latter assaulted the former’s cousin.  Bernie (Enzo Cilenti), Stevo (Sam Riley), Frank (Michael Smiley), Justine (Brie Larson), Chris (Cillian Murphy) are the buyers and Ord (Armie Hammer), Vernon (Sharlto Copley), Martin (Babou Ceesay), Gordon (Noah Taylor), Harry (Jack Reynor) are the sellers.  Just when things are almost settled between the two sides someone pulls a gun and shoots someone.  Though they are initially split by geography and loose loyalties, it soon becomes a deadly game of “everyone for themselves” as everyone grabs a weapon.

Set entirely in one place (an abandoned factory/warehouse) the story is a bit claustrophobic, but I think it was saved by the characters and the cleverness of the dialogue.  While the action was completely over the top, I found it to actually be fairly realistic.  Even though they seemed to have an endless supply of bullets, our bad guys (because they are all terrible people who you can’t really root for)  do have to stop and reload.  Every one of them got shot at some point: a bullet in the arm, a shot in the leg, one man gets grazed in the head exposing his brain; and while it may be gruesome, the violence wasn’t glorified.   I also appreciated that the bad guys were not really good shots, it’s difficult to shoot and hit your target especially when you’re a target yourself, and have been hit yourself as well.

Sharlto Copley (District 9, Elysium) pretty much stole the show, but Michael Smiley (Luther) came really close too.  I loved the dialogue he had with Armie Hammer, almost as much as I loved the back and forths between Copley and Brie Larson.  There wasn’t really a whole lot of a message or purpose or complexity to the movie which is fine, it was pretty much just a black comedy thriller about two groups of trigger happy criminals trying to survive by killing the other guys.  It was fun, and that’s all it needed to be.  I think it’s safe to say this film was a bit of an experiment, so the runtime of 91 minutes was perfect.  I don’t think the film would have worked if it was any longer.

Bottom Line: It’s a good thing there’s no honour among thieves, because if the gun deal went down smoothly, Free Fire would have been an awfully short film…


Pride and Prejudice and Zombies – ★ ★ ★ ½ DVD Review

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies3.5 Stars

I’d never read Pride & Prejudice before, and never seen any of the various Pride & Prejudice films before either (probably because it was never assigned to me in high school), but for some reason I was interested in seeing PP&Z.  It was probably due to the trailers with Lily James and her film sisters in corsets…I was quite entertained by everything about the film.

A plaque has descended upon England, but not a black plague this time, but a zombie plague.  With London separated from the rest of the English countryside by a giant moat, those not living in the great town live in constant fear of attack.  The Bennett family is one of those who live in such fear, and whose five daughters are all young and of a marrying age.  Their mother is extremely anxious to marry them off lest they become penniless spinsters.  The girls are shopped to suitors at balls and dinners, where deals are almost made to marry off Elizabeth, but she wishes to marry for love and not out of convenience.  The Bennett girls are all highly trained in the fine arts: sewing, music, dance, and the martial arts too, which is helpful when there are zombies around to crash your dinner party.

Lots of action; ample amounts of romance and drama;  lots of humour actually too.  The fights were good, and varied enough that the action sequences didn’t grow boring.  Often times in zombie films or television shows, it can easily become repetitive as zombies are just shot in the head time after time after time.  Decent effects, and good acting;  Lily James was excellent, and Matt Smith was fun to watch in something other than Doctor Who.   After watching I checked out online what happened in the original Pride & Prejudice, and surprisingly, the Zombified version was quite faithful….with just extra zombie….stuff…. but it did stick to the basic Jane Austen storyline.  The zombies weren’t overplayed or overused, and I’m sure that the whole thing was just a big commentary on the class structure of England.  It all worked very well, but it did have the benefit of being based on an all time classic.

Bottom Line: I probably won’t put Pride & Prejudice on my “to read” list, but I may add Pride & Prejudice & Zombies

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