Fyre Rises Poster

Fyre Rises (2024) Review

Fyre Rises is the story of Richard Fyre (Paul Marlon, War Blade, Renegades) who was once a killer in the employ of a clandestine agency of some kind. But after a mission against Russian sex traffickers went badly wrong, he turned pacifist. So much so that when Priest (Aaron Sidwell, The Nephilim, EastEnders) offers him a job that would get him out of debt, he turns it down. And when several of his goons turn up to get him to reconsider, he refuses to defend himself.

But since Priest, like everyone else, has seen a few action films, he knows what to do. He threatens Fyre’s family. His wife Maddie (Charlene Aldridge, Tribal Get Out Alive, No More Lights in the Sky), daughter Abbey (May Jones), and son Connor (Stanley Clarke) instead. That gets results, and soon Fyre is on his way to Spain, under the watchful eye of another of Priest’s disciples, Ellie (Tia Owomoyela). His mission should be simple, dispose of Priest’s competitor Alejandro (Jake Canuso, City Rats, The Dark Knight Rises) with extreme prejudice. But if it was easy, there wouldn’t be much to see, would there?

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Despite the overly familiar plot, Fyre Rises’ opening doesn’t look like a typical action film. Priest is a flamboyant Joker like entity with a painted face and a tendency to torture his enemies to the accompaniment of strobe lights and dancers. His team of enforcers, known as The Wolf Pack, Angel (Alana Wallace, Lore, Black Ops), Tank (Jay James, On Cloud Nine), Cog (Sam Anthony) and their leader Wolf (Otto Jäger, Virtual Viking – The Ambush) have habits that include cannibalism.

This gives Fyre Rises an odd sort of hybrid feel, because the rest of the film’s characters, like Hooper (Dan Richardson, Wolves of War, Kill Kane) Fyre’s former comrade in arms who has a few skeletons in his closet, are considerably more like what we expect to meet. So while parts of it feel like a violent comic book film, much of it does feel like a typical action film. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, just a bit disappointing after an opening that involves human limbs roasting on a grill.

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Also, more typical of indie action films, Fyre Rises takes its time about getting down to business, with most of the film’s action confined to the last few minutes. Once we get to it, the carnage is nicely staged, but sitting through endless talk to get to it was more than a little frustrating. Especially as much of it derives from Fyre’s unwillingness to kill, even with his family’s life at stake, something that also makes it hard to feel any sympathy for him.

Indeed, Richard Fyre is less a man of action than a pathetic figure who spends ninety percent of the film feeling sorry for himself while everyone around him suffers as a result. If he’d manned up sooner, he wouldn’t have had nearly as much to be seeking revenge for.

There’s a “six months later” epilogue which features Cynthia Rothrock (No Retreat, No Surrender 2, The Last Kumite), Eric Roberts (Darkness of Man, Insane Like Me) and Joseph Millson (Dragonheart Vengeance, Creation Stories) as officers in the agency Fyre once worked for. It’s an obvious setup for a sequel. And to a certain degree that’s what all of Fyre Rises feels like, an overlong origin story setting up what appears to be a much bigger and more ambitious conflict in the followup. If the sequel does happen, hopefully Knight will learn from Fyre Rises’ shortcomings and give viewers at least the occasional burst of action earlier in the film and make the central character a bit easier to care about.

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Writer/director Paul Knight (Dead Wood, 24 Little Hours) has some good ideas, and along with cinematographer Harvey Glen (Yeti Massacre, Sugar and Toys) along with stunt coordinators Spencer Collings (Frankenstein: Legacy, 400 Bullets) and Mark Johnson (Deus, Creatures) make the most of what action scenes we get. But we have to put up with way too much talk from an extremely unlikable protagonist to get to it.

Fyre Rises has being playing festivals in the UK, you can check the film’s Facebook page for more information.

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