First ‘Free Fire’ Photo From Ben Wheatley Channels Scorsese and Other Crime Classics 

The director told 'Inverse' what it was like shooting his first U.S.-set film, close to home. 

Eamonn M. McCormack / Getty

Director Ben Wheatley is a very busy man. His most recent and most controversial film, High-Rise, is out on VOD right now, and hits select theaters on Friday. And you’d imagine a well-seasoned director with his first big movie starring major celebs would be super busy and not have to, oh, I don’t know, immediately make another big movie with more movie stars. Wheatley has proven us wrong as the first photo for his upcoming film Free Fire was just released via Empire Online.

The film marks the first time one of Wheatley’s films takes place outside of his native Britain, and like High-Rise is looks to be a worthy throwback to ‘70s thrillers. While High-Rise was big on the scathing social satire of author J.G. Ballard, expect the wholly original Free Fire to favor lots of gangsters, gunfire, carnage, and Wheatley’s signature frenetic style to deliver a new and notable crime drama.

Check out the photo, which features some serious ‘70s vibes, below:

Armie Hammer, Brie Larson, Cilian Murphy, Sam Riley, and Michael Smiley in 'Free Fire.'


Set in Boston in 1978, Free-Fire tells the multi-POV story of the fallout from an arms deal gone wrong, as two sides of gangsters battle to escape a deserted warehouse alive. But Wheatley didn’t have to go far to bring the movie together. He told Inverse: “I shot it in Brighton. There’s very few exteriors, so it felt like there was very little need to come,” he added. Like Wheatley’s High-Rise and A Field in England, the director looks to put his own spin on the single-location movie once again.“It’s period, so it has to be built from scratch, and it’s in a warehouse, and we’ve got plenty of them,” he said. “It’s a good match.”

The cast is rounded out by reigning Academy Award-winning Best Actress Brie Larson, Cillian Murphy, Michael Smiley, Armie Hammer, Sam Riley, Noah Taylor, Enzo Cilenti, and more. The movie is also executive produced by Martin Scorsese, and you know when Scorsese throws his name on your movie, you’ve got something special.

Wheatley, among the best working directors today, seems pretty comfortable with the clout, and rattled off to Variety a few years ago a bunch of crime drama classics that inspired him to make Free Fire.

He told them at the time: “The idea for Free Fire came from my love of hard-boiled crime movies; from The Asphalt Jungle, The Big Sleep, The Killing and The Big Combo through The Driver, Le Samourai and The French Connection, to the modern cycle of Goodfellas, Casino, Hard Boiled and Reservoir Dogs.”

That’s quite the intimidating list. But Wheatley is the type of audacious filmmaker who could pull it off. But he’ probably not worrying about that because he’s inevitably on to making his next modern classic film.

You write your own stuff, you know what it is, you can finance it and it gets made, rather than doing a dance of looking at a script and six years later and you haven’t made it and time’s moved on, and no one remembers the great film you made to get this film in the first place,” he says.

Free Fire, which was written by Wheatley and his collaborator Amy Jump, hits Cannes this month with inevitable UK and US release dates to follow after that.

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