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The warehouse is dark, as it would have to be. It’s not smart for crooks to gather in daylight. But that doesn’t mean that everyone under this roof is particularly bright.

It’s a good bet that Justine (Brie Larson) has the highest IQ in the bunch. At least she’s honest about the fact that she’s in it for herself. And Ord (Armie Hammer) has the kind of quick wit that usually signifies a certain amount of intelligence. But you get the sense that Chris (Cillian Murphy) and Vernon (Sharlto Copley) never even came close to being “A” students.

Along with a couple of other guys whom the police would probably like to locate, they’ve come to the warehouse to transact a deal. It’s an exchange of guns for money, and there shouldn’t be any problem with all parties coming away satisfied. But sometimes, friction between people can yield unforeseen results.

In this case, it’s an outbreak of gunfire that goes on and on and on — ripping through flesh and raising the possibility that no one will leave the building alive.

Will anyone survive? Or get away with the cash?

Perhaps a better question: Will anyone watching this film really care?

No doubt some art-film fanatics will hail “Free Fire” as a bold experiment in narrative — the next step beyond the unapologetic mayhem and scattershot wit of Quentin Tarantino. But in a Tarantino film, there’s something to hang onto: a quirky character, an unexpected turn of plot, a memorable line of dialogue.

In this film, plenty of guns go off. Period.

Working from a script that he co-wrote with Amy Jump, director Ben Wheatley (“High-Rise”) was apparently more interested in persuasive sound effects than ideas. The film is a criminal waste of an ensemble cast that should have found something better to do than lend their names to such a pointless exercise.

“Free Fire” is a misfire.


What “Free Fire” • One star out of four • Run time 1:30 • Rating R • Content Violence, language, sexual references and drug use

Calvin Wilson is theater critic for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.