So, Free Fire…
I like Ben Wheatley in the same way that I like Neil Marshall, I like that he’s there doing his thing. I’m a big fan of his High Rise (it’s not Ballard’s, which I also love) and Kill List. His other films not so much but I’m glad someone is making them. I’m also excited by the idea of Freak Shift and an oft mentioned remake of Wages of Fear. But I’m here because of Free Fire, his arms deal gone bad gunfight movie. It’s been sold by various reviews as ‘stylish’ and so on but it’s not really. It’s a film about a bunch of unlikable people being unlikable that looks a bit too clean to be as disreputable as it might think it is.
And yet I still quite liked it. It moved along, I knew where everyone was in relation to each other and I wanted to know who would be left standing. Plus the actors are all quite good at being Frank Miller characters.
Had I first seen this film on ‘pan and scan’ VHS when I was too young to watch it then it may have been something really special. As it stands it’s a good watch but a better poster.
I noticed last night that Micheal Mann’s The Keep (1983) is currently available on Netflix UK. Despite being screened occasionally on Film4 this is welcome news for anyone still clinging onto their VHS or, like me, their poor laserdisc to DVD copy. Unlike the Amazon rental the Netflix version retains the widescreen format even if the picture quality isn’t brilliant (although it’s as good as I’ve seen it).
Of course, referring to the film as ‘Michael Mann’s The Keep’ is slightly misleading as he has all but disowned it and it lingers unloved with no notable DVD release let alone a Blu Ray. The film is also disowned by F. Paul Wilson who wrote the novel on which it is based and didn’t like the changes made by Mann. Fans of the book can get a better idea of what Wilson had in mind for the movie by reading the comic book adaptation, which is essentially his version of the film. A feature length documentary about the film was due for release in 2013 but is yet to appear with pre-orders currently suspended.
Despite all this, I still quite like the film. Even with it’s weaknesses it’s full of interesting ideas and images, a decent cast, and has a score by Tangerine Dream. Unloved and uneven I think The Keep is a great piece of cult cinema