Art and Experience: Ben Wheatley’s action-thriller “Free Fire,” executive produced by Martin Scorsese, will be the closing-night film of the 60th BFI London Film Festival. The film’s director and cast, led by Brie Larson, Cillian Murphy and Armie Hammer, will be on the red carpet for the European premiere on Oct. 16 at London’s Odeon Leicester Square.
The pic’s stars are red hot: Larson won an Oscar this year for “Room” and is set to topline in “Captain Marvel”; Murphy leads the cast in cult TV show “Peaky Blinders” and appears next year in Christopher Nolan’s wartime epic “Dunkirk”; and Hammer features in Nate Parker’s soon-to-be-released “The Birth of a Nation.” Other cast members include Michael Smiley, Sharlto Copley, Jack Reynor and Babou Ceesay.
“Free Fire” is set in Boston in the late ‘70s. Justine (Larson) has brokered a meeting in a deserted warehouse between two Irishmen (Murphy, Smiley) and a gang led by Vernon (Copley) and Ord (Hammer), who are selling them a stash of guns. “When shots are fired in the handover, a heart-stopping game of survival ensues,” according to the press statement.
The movie is produced by Andrew Starke for Rook Films, and is backed by Film4 and the British Film Institute. The screenplay is by Amy Jump and Wheatley.
BFI London Film Festival’s director, Clare Stewart, said in a statement: “Ben Wheatley’s ascent as one of the U.K.’s most dazzling cinematic talents continues with this ballsy actioner. Dripping with blood, sweat and irony, ‘Free Fire’s’ bravura filmmaking pays knowing tribute to the films of Sam Peckinpah and features a terrific cast, who clearly relish bringing Wheatley and co-writer Amy Jump’s vivid characters to the screen.”
“Free Fire” is Wheatley’s third film to be presented at the festival, following “Sightseers” in 2012 and “High-Rise” last year.
This year’s festival, which runs Oct. 5-16, opens with Amma Asante’s “A United Kingdom,” as previously announced. The full program will be unveiled Sept. 1. The attendance of last year’s festival totaled 164,000, across 568 screenings.