5 Ways to Prep: Free Fire
By George Rose
April 20, 2017
Those four movies from 2009-2013 star nobody I’ve ever heard of so I decided to watch the trailers for them to see if I might watch one. After doing so, I noticed a trend. Down Terrace was his first movie but after that the trailers for the next three all mention some version of “from visionary director Ben Wheatley.” This terrified me. When a trailer says “from acclaimed director…” it’s a good thing, because critics like the director’s previous work. When they say “visionary” they mean “visual,” meaning he isn’t necessarily a good director but one that likes to experiment with the visual aspects of film. This could be good; this could be bad. What I learned next was that he made a movie in 2015 called High-Rise starring Tom Hiddleston, Jeremy Irons, Sienna Miller and Luke Evans. Regardless of my perception of Wheatley’s earlier directorial work based on the trailers, I figured he must actually be a good director because good actors finally wanted to work with him. That then made my choice easy for which of Wheatley’s movies to watch for this article. I grabbed my fiancé, a few snacks, turned on Netflix and got started.
Well, that backfired. The movie is crap. Total crap. The premise had potential; the world now basically operates with a bunch of high-rise buildings that have poor people at the bottom and rich people at the top. They fight over who gets the power. I don’t mean, like, power over each other. I mean like electricity. At first, it made me think of Snowpiercer with Chris Evans, where there is a big train and poor people live in the back and rich people live at the front near the engine. Except, in that movie, Chris Evans fights his way through the train cars, through the classes, and through a visual journey of all the cool ways you could show real life confined to a train. One train car is a sushi restaurant, one has poor people on bunk beds, another is a rich people dance club, another is an aquarium, and so on. It was amazing! I thought High-Rise might be the same because as I was promised from several trailers, Ben Wheatley is a “visionary” director. Oh no. No no no no no no.
We don’t’ get to see how all the different floors are decorated dramatically different from one another. We get to watch people cry about electricity, which might be an intriguing concept if they actually focused on that storyline. Instead, we watch the high-rise descend into madness. Not fun madness, but crazy madness. Like, everyone is having sex with everyone, while complaining to everyone else, while partying with some other people, while swimming in a pool, while doing some dancing, now we’re at a party, Tom Hiddleston is cooking a dog’s leg, people having sex again, oh look there’s a child running about, and more “that imagery is soooo deep and meaningful, even though it’s just Luke Evans dancing by himself against a black background.” Seriously, if I had paid to see this movie I’d be so pissed but it was free on Netflix.