Review: Fireworks

Directed by Paul J. Franklin and written by Steve Lally, set in an MI6 Ops Room and uses cutting-edge Virtual Production technology to tell its story. Starring: Charlotte Riley, Ivanno Jeremiah, Denise Gough, Sophie Wu, Hammed Animashaun, Raghad Chaar, Elysse Adil and Hamed Mirani.

Stories surrounding spies, MI6 and drone strikes are frequent appearances in modern film and television, so it adds an extra challenge to try and keep things fresh. However, despite that Fireworks doesn’t hold the most original of stories, it is still plenty entertaining. It’s not difficult to foretell where it’s headed but it succeeds because of the quality of the dialogue by Steve Lally. They’ve created a group of well constructed characters with individual personalities, each with their own charm whether that be cheeky or brusque. There’s a nice biting edge their back and forth, and a typically British sarcastic sense of humour, mixed with a sharp tongue.

A good portion of the story, even though it’s never specifically mentioned, is their use of technology, how they’re put right into the view of the place they’re potentially attacking. The effects are well done, though it can feel a touch forced at times, blending reality and virtual together creates a sentimentally styled palette, pushing the conscience aspect in an overt manner. Although the effects and style of direction overall do work well together, there’s a certain sharpness to the way that it moves, feeling modern and slick. Using the editing to push the rising tensions and emotions to their dialogue in a satisfying manner.

There’s a great cast at work, starting out with Charlotte Riley, presenting a character reminiscent of Vicky McClure in Line of Duty, steadfast, quick-witted and logical. Her opening phone call contains the best piece of dialogue the film has to offer and immediately sets things out on strong footing. Then there’s Ivanno Jeremiah and Denise Gough bringing polar opposites of one another, almost angel and devil upon the shoulders of the film’s lead. Gough’s character has that typical privilege and arrogance, it’s entertaining but not someone you’d want to know in real life, while Jeremiah gives us the moral ground, a man who cares about principle above success. The three of them are then backed up with some light-hearted humour and fantastic comic timing from Sophie Wu and Hammed Animashaun.

Fireworks takes what could have been a cliched story and turns it into something entertaining and tense. The brilliant ensemble push this even further, making the most out of the smart, witty dialogue. While the direction and editing add a great pacing to lean into the suspense and consequences of this story. Its use of effects is well done, but occasionally soften things up a little too much to fit with its sharper, modern style.

Verdict: ✯✯✯½ | 7/10

Fireworks screened at Tribeca Film Festival 2022

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