Free Fire movie poster

A hearty “Suck on this!” prefaces a shooting in Ben Wheatley’s new film — an homage to Travis Bickle that even Helen Keller could make out. Martin Scorsese recently confessed that He no longer wastes time watching meaningless, image-free multiplex fodder, but that didn’t stop Him from taking a producer’s credit on this piece of plagiaristic slag. Here’s the gimmick: anchored in a vacant warehouse, a pair of rival gangs participate in a feature-length shootout. Cornfed curse words fuel a script that doesn’t amount to much more than a hateful snatch of Tarantino’s set-bound posturing, spiked with a blend of pre-Madonna, semi-intelligible Guy Ritchie oddballs. In her second performance since taking home an Oscar, Brie Larson again falls short of the dramatic shading needed to make her part work — making this and Kong: Skull Island little more than well-paid walkthroughs. Sharlto Copley, meanwhile, continues to let his period costuming and clenched dialect do most of heavy lifting. 2016.

Scott Marks

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