What begins as a film with punchy promise soon becomes a dull shoot-out. This is unfortunate, because Free Fire is loaded with potential, especially given the intriguing early scenes of the film. There’s the fantastic arms deal set-up, which introduces us to each of the characters (some more distinct than others), as tensions escalate over a stock mix-up. Then there’s the delightfully uneasy moment that the guns are tested, and characters visibly jump. How disappointing, then, that when bullets start flying for real, all excitement is lost. Irritatingly, characters are slow to die and never seem to die properly. They rarely change cover, and when they do it actually breathes a little bit of life into the film. Mildly silly one-liners are bandied about here and there, but quickly lose their ability to crack a smile. Free Fire is a film that overstays its welcome, and makes you forget that it was even welcome in the first place.
‘Life’ is rather lifeless.
From the very beginning, Life informs us of its key influence – the title font alone bears a striking resemblance to that of Alien (1979). The problem is that Life doesn’t seem to know whether it is a tribute film or a less intelligent imitation. The references are too overt to be unintentional, yet the film never quite manages to venerate the original franchise that defines it. Life positions itself in a way that forces comparisons between it and Alien – but side by side, it is clear that the latter is supreme. The monster – a gelatinous octopus – cannot hold a candle to the primal, parasitic nightmare that is the Xenomorph. Exceptionally, the first few establishing minutes (and a terrifically unexpected first death) promise greater thrills throughout the film. What a shame, then, that neither the cast nor the writing can save this film from falling flat. Though by no means offensive, Life fails to provide anything authentic, discarding potentially rich plot-lines by the wayside.