Ben Wheatley’s new action-thriller Free Fire centres on a warehouse meeting between two gangs, that goes awry and descends into a bloody shootout. It is fair to say that the film is almost entirely a male oriented affair, featuring a who’s who of respected male actors; from the always brilliant Cillian Murphy to Michael Smiley, who was particularly good in Wheatley’s film, Kill List. Amongst this ensemble is the lone female figure of Brie Larson, who nonetheless makes a hell of an impression throughout. To celebrate the film’s release, we thought we’d take this aspect of Free Fire and explore other ensemble films with a single female protagonist.

Free Fire

Free Fire

The Hateful Eight (2015)

Quentin Tarantino’s latest film The Hateful Eight is set in the aftermath of the American Civil War and centres on a group of similarly loathsome characters who take refuge together in a cabin after a storm hits. Even with an incredibly impressive cast from Kurt Russell to Samuel Jackson, the clear highlight of the film is Jennifer Jason Leigh who is the only woman of the titular eight. It had been a while since the enormously talented Leigh was given a role that showcased her talent and she truly has one in the form of the vile and reprehensible Daisy Domergue. She is absolutely captivating in this part and was deservedly nominated for an academy award for her effort.

The Departed (2006)

Martin Scorsese’s best picture winning thriller is stacked with famous male actors including Jack Nicholson, Leonardo Dicaprio and Matt Damon. Within this ensemble is Vera Farmiga who plays a psychiatrist romantically involved with both Dicaprio and Damon. She was relatively unknown when she was cast but considering how effectively she holds her own against these acting heavyweights, it’s no wonder that she’s gone onto to star in high profile films such as Up in the Air and The Conjuring as well as the beloved television series Bates Motel.

The Avengers (2012)

There are countless superhero films to choose from at the moment but there’s no denying how uniquely successful Joss Whedon’s film was in effectively bringing together many beloved characters for the first time and creating a tone that is both humorous and compelling. Not to mention the fact that Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow further established her as one of the best female action stars working today. Here’s hoping she gets her own solo film sooner rather than later.

Inception (2010)

While Marion Cotillard features fairly prominently as Cobb’s wife, the only woman that is part of the team infiltrating Robert Fischer’s mind is Ellen Page’s Ariadne. Page had previously established herself in Juno as someone with a great deal of charisma and she continues to showcase that in a film packed with big concepts and actors that could have overshadowed a lesser actor.

Fight Club (1999)

As a brutally violent film centred on issues of the fragile male ego, toxic masculinity and homoeroticism, it is perhaps unsurprising that Fight Club is comprised of an almost entirely male cast. Arguably the best part of the picture however, comes in the form of Helena Bonham Carter’s Marla Singer whose nihilistic, damaged and darkly humorous character makes her one of the most unique and captivating roles of Bonham’s extensive career and in film history generally.

Free Fire is released in cinemas THIS FRIDAY