5. Free Fire
Free Fire was released earlier this year and was met with rave reviews. Coming from the mind of British auteur Ben Wheatley, the film depicts a weapons deal gone wrong in a remote Boston warehouse in 1978 and the resulting shootout. The film is strengthened by its cast of colorful characters who, given the nature of their profession, are void of manners and social etiquette. Each character is expressive in their own way through the language they use. Swearing is the language of the criminal underclass and Wheatley makes sure to capture this accurately.
Like Reservoir Dogs, Free Fire’s plot also lends itself to the over-excessive use of cuss words. In the film, as the gun deal implodes and the various groups involved begin to turn on each other, the bullets fly in all directions and pretty much everyone gets hit in one way or another. How do these hardened and frustrated criminals react to such pain?
With an onslaught of swear words either directed at the one who shot the gun or just to the high heavens themselves. The most popular swear word flung around Wheatley’s one location set? Yep you guessed it. The film uses the f-word 240-times. Given the film’s short runtime this means the word appears 2.67 times per minute.
Wheatley’s meticulous planning of how the film would unfold in its singular location helped the film shine on screen. The director famously re-created the set on the video game Minecraft so he could better picture how to choreograph the near hour-long gunfight. It is because of Wheatley’s attention to detail that the film works so well, and it is through its limitations that its creative elements best reveal themselves. As an action film it stands as one of the most unique and enjoyable ones ever made.
4. Nil by Mouth
Gary Oldman is of course loved the world over for his near unnatural way of disappearing into a character. He is undoubtedly one of the greatest actors of his generation. Having starred in hit after hit he is a man that can pick and choose his projects. Lesser known about Oldman is that he has, for one time only (thus far), stepped behind the camera to direct. And, of course, being a man of his talents, the film is a special one.
Written and directed by Oldman and loosely based on his own experiences, Nil by Mouth is an unflinching look at a working class family living in a London council estate. Ray Winstone plays Ray, the viscous patriarch of the central family. Ray has a short temper and when it is unleashed he quickly turns to violence, usually directed at his long-suffering wife, Val, played tremendously by Kathy Burke. The film is a difficult watch because of its nature but Oldman manages to draw some truly brilliant performances from his cast.
Being set amongst the working classes in London swearing was always going to be frequent. Throw in the criminal element and Ray’s outbursts and the result is one of the most swear-heavy films in history. The film features the f-word 428 times in 128 minutes, meaning it is heard an average of 3.34 times per minute. Being a British film it is perhaps not too surprising that it also features the c-word many times – 82 times to be specific – and more times than any other film in history.
3. The Wolf of Wall Street
The Wolf of Wall Street stands as one of Martin Scorsese’s most controversial films to date. Its subject matter, and depiction of it, has often landed it in hot water and divided audiences but its demonstration of Scorsese’s abilities as a filmmaker is never in doubt.
Scorsese tackles the story of Jordan Belfort, played by Leonardo DiCaprio in the film, and the years spanning his rise on Wall Street to his eventual indictment by the FBI for fraud. Belfort is not generally considered a commendable figure and whilst the film does not paint a pretty picture of him, it revels in his flamboyant and expensive lifestyle and it makes for terrific, if not morally questionable, viewing.
Due to the unapologetic nature of who Belfort and the men he works with are, it is understandable that the feature might include a lot of swearing. Belfort and his colleagues are unapologetically outspoken, decidedly not politically correct, and generally hold nothing, other than money, sacred. The film dives head first into the drug fuelled world of these ethically corrupt men and, paying dividends to authenticity, it does not hold back in showing the real men, how they act and, importantly for this list, how they speak.
Wolf of Wall Street is the Scorsese film to use the word “fuck” the most. The word, and its variants, appears 569 times throughout the film, and at the time of its released it held the record for the most uses of the word in a film. This record was of course beaten by Swearnet: The Movie but remains an impressive figure nevertheless.
With a runtime of 180-minutes, Wolf of Wall Street features the f-word an average of 3.16 times per minute. Scorsese is of course the kind of filmmaker that often deals with certain kind of characters – i.e. ones which use profanity frequently. Whilst The Wolf of Wall Street serves as the film to use the f-word most out of his oeuvre, it is worth noting that Casino (2.4 times per minute) and Goodfellas (2.05 times per minute) also use the f-word frequently.
2. Reservoir Dogs
This list wouldn’t truly be about swearing in movies if we didn’t talk about Quentin Tarantino. The man loves to pepper his dialogue with some truly shocking words and “fuck” features heavily. The word fits nicely into the world of the film: desperate criminals recovering from a botched heist and must find the rat amongst them. It would be strange if they didn’t say fuck every other sentence.
One scene within the film places a badly injured Mr Orange (Tim Roth) in the back seat of a car bleeding heavily after the heist. As Mr White (Harvey Keitel) speeds to the warehouse the criminals have planned to reconvene at, Mr Orange, understandably, blurts out as many fucks as he possibly can to communicate the pain and fear he is experiencing.
Reservoir Dogs stands as the Tarantino film to use the most f-words with 269 uses of the word in 99 minutes. That’s 2.71 times per minute math fans! However, the word also features frequently in his other works too with it being said an average of 1.72 times per minute in Pulp Fiction, whilst his script for True Romance contained an average 1.93 fucks per minute.
1. The Big Lebowski
The Coen Brothers have never been the kind of filmmakers to shy away from the profane and the disturbing. However, it may come as a surprise to many that one of the less violent and serious films stands as the one to use the f-word the most. The filmmaking siblings have released many a gritty fare from their debut, Blood Simple, to the slow burning nightmare that is No Country for Old Men. You’d be forgiven for thinking that these darker toned films would lend themselves better to the profane but is the duo’s seminal stoner-noir, The Big Lebowski that features the most uses of the f-word and its variants.
The Big Lewbowski has become a cult smash-hit because of its original and hilarious characters, the subversion of the noir genre, and of course the brilliance of the brothers’ writing. One of the standouts of the film is John Goodman’s Walter, who, through his incessant ranting and outbursts directed at Steve Buscemi’s Donny, provides the most uses of the word. The addition of the f-word to much of the dialogue helps create a personal way of speaking, authenticity and gives the syntax a natural flare and rhythm.
The f-word appears in the film 260 times and with a runtime of 117 minutes the word, and its variants, appears an average of 2.22 times per minute. Our favourite use of the word in the film? “This is what happens when you fuck a stranger in the ass, Larry!” Walter says as he proceeds to destroy a beautiful sports car that evidently does not belong to Larry.