This week I was faced with a bit of a conundrum. The Promise and Free Fire were coming out at the same time and I was interested in seeing both. Obviously, if you want to maintain a budget, seeing two movies in a single week is a terrible idea. I was forced to choose between the two based on limited information. Free Fire is Ben Wheatley’s follow up to High Rise about a shootout in a warehouse. Promise is about the Armenian Genocide, a subject that gets very little attention in film.
Both stand on their own merits, but there can be only one. The subject matter of Promise is important when it comes to understanding history. Genocide is bad and the more we acknowledge and study atrocities of the past the less likely we will commit them in the future. The movie is banking on its subject, while the premise falls to the wayside. Not unlike Titanic and Pearl Harbor, Promise is a romance set against a tragedy. On the trailer alone I knew what was going to happen.
Look, the Armenian Genocide was terrible, but I do not need a film about it to know it was terrible. The fact it involved the Armenians and Turks is inconsequential because no matter which way you look at it, mass murder and/or ethnic cleansing is awful by default and must be prevented. The played-out premise did not help the movie’s chances either. The only people who should see Promise are those interested in learning about a historical event and Cenk Uygur, founder of The Young Turks. And since I am already familiar with the Armenian Genocide, that title has more offensive subtext than Cenk’s fat buffalo ass. For those reasons, I chose to see Free Fire instead.
When a group of IRA terrorists attempt to buy rifles from a Rhodesian gunrunner, the two sides start shooting at each other over a misunderstanding. Trapped in a warehouse, they try to kill each other through the night until there is only one left standing.
Free Fire was fantastic. The acting was exceptional, writing tight and funny, and the action set pieces inventive. It is not the Second Coming, but in a world of remakes and reboots, I will take anything that is original and pretty good over total garbage. Ben Wheatley returns to his small-scale roots with the bulk of the story taking place in one location. The cinematography is more personal with hand-held shots that stay close to the characters crawling through dirt and debris. It was also a breath of fresh air seeing real blanks used in real gun and squibs that are not digital.
And that is all I am going to say.
I do not want to tell you anything except to buy a ticket as soon as possible. I always try to promote original works and it is not often that they are actually good. Though not entirely without flaw, Free Fire was great and it is not based on anything. The more we see films that are wholly original, the more they will become relevant in the future. If you want a good laugh and contribute to the cause of originality, look no further.