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Free Fire


Brie Larson and Sharlto Copley star in a scene from the movie "Free Fire." The Catholic News Service classification is L -- limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R -- restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian. (CNS photo/courtesy of A24)

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NEW YORK (CNS) -- The premise of "Free Fire" (A24) is that a single extended gunfight can sustain an entire film, provided the participants in the showdown keep making incongruously funny and mordant remarks.

This is the genre of the siege movie, somewhat in the style of 1976's "Assault on Precinct 13." Plot and character development are ignored in favor of the presumed enjoyment of watching villains working out their issues by blasting away at each other in a decaying Boston factory.

The setup involves a deal to buy assault rifles that quickly goes bad. So, the two sides spend the rest of the run time pulling their triggers and reloading while attempting to retrieve a briefcase loaded with cash.

Think of it as an extended pie fight, but with bullets. It would work out better were the movie actually comedic. But director Ben Wheatley, who co-wrote the screenplay with Amy Jump, is instead completely vested in choreographing these scruffy, amoral characters as they pop up from hiding places to fire off a few rounds. He also has them crawl around painfully after receiving flesh wounds.

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