Free Fire is an appropriate name for Ben Wheatley’s ’70s-set action film, which had its U.S. premiere Monday night at the South by Southwest Film Festival in Austin, Texas. The movie — which stars Brie Larson, Armie Hammer, and Sharlto Copley and centers on an arms deal gone very, very wrong — keeps bullets flying freely throughout.
After the screening, Wheatley appeared on stage with Hammer and Copley and told the crowd that 7,000 bullets were used during production. (That number sounds like a lot, and it is, but — as mentioned above, almost the entire film centers on people shooting at one another for 90 minutes.)
All of the action takes place in a large warehouse where the firefight ensues, which presented challenges of its own, according to Hammer. “It was really ambitious idea to shoot it all in once space because even though you only have one space, the devil’s in the details with something like that and you lose the geography of that really quickly if you’re not careful,” he said. “Everything was so meticulously planned out.”
Free Fire, which first premiered last year at the Toronto International Film Festival, was executive produced by Martin Scorsese. When asked how the prolific filmmaker got on board, Wheatley explained that around the time Scorsese was filming Hugo in the U.K., he gave an interview to a London paper where he mentioned seeing Wheatley’s film Kill List.
“I was like, ‘This is interesting,'” Wheatley recalled. “So I basically begged my agents and said, if you do anything for me, can I please met Martin Scorsese? And I went to see him in New York when I was doing press for Sightseers and I was just like, ‘Oh my God.’ This is the weird thing when you meet someone like that because all my stories about films are things I’ve read off the internet, and all their stories about film, they’ve lived. … it was just really intimidating, but great.”
Free Fire opens in theaters on April 21 via A24. See reactions from Monday’s screening below.