Free Guy ⭐⭐⭐⭐
After a year of being pushed back, it's here, and it’s worth the wait.
I know what you’re thinking. So they tried to make another video game movie. Here we have just another big budget star studded CGI movie making fun of games like GTA (because let’s face it, it’s GTA or Grand Theft Auto for long). While that may be what you got from the trailer, and trust me I did too, I’m happy to tell you that you can tell this movie was made by people who actually understand gaming, and it’s bloody madness, but the good kind.
Ryan Reynolds (Deadpool, The Proposal) plays Guy, who is a bank teller but is also a non-player character or NPC in a game called Free City. He lives his normal life as an NPC, day by day, until he spots a real life player called MolotovGirl played by Jodie Comer (Killing Eve) who causes him to change and become a self-learning AI within the game. Guy from MolotovGirl that Free City’s evil developer Antwan played by Taika Waititi (Jojo Rabbit) stole the code for Free City from MolotovGirl and her ex-indie game developing partner Keys, played by Joe Keery (Stranger Things). With time running out, Guy and MolotovGirl must team up with a whole host of other characters to save the day. It’s original, and that’s refreshing.
View this post on Instagram
When it comes to looking at the cast, and I see Ryan Reynolds is in a movie, I’m excited. I’m only human. Reynolds just seems to have found his acting niche of just playing himself and just having fun and it’s working out well so far. Surrounding Reynolds, the previously mentioned Comer, Waititi and Keery, but also Guy’s best friend Buddy played by Lil Rel Howery (Get Out) and Utarsh Ambudkar (Pitch Perfect, The Broken Hearts Gallery) as Mousey. All the cast put in great performances from Ryan Reynolds playing himself basically, to Taika Waititi being probably the most evil I’ve ever seen him on screen. Well obviously apart from when he played Hitler in Jojo Rabbit. Obviously. Also you may be surprised to know that there was another A-Lister who is a pretty prominent character, but I have searched through all the release material and couldn’t find anything about them being in it so I’m not going to give the one to spoil the surprise.
Free Guy is directed by Shawn Levy, who may not be the biggest of names but he directed the three Night at the Museum movies so that’s good enough for me. Levy, who is arguably more accomplished as a producer brought us Stranger Things and even earned an Oscar nomination for Arrival. Where you can really feel the heart of the movie is in the writing, through the pairing of Matt Liebermann and Zak Penn. Lieberman was the writer behind Scoob! and The Christmas Chronicles while Zak Penn wrote Ready Player One and some movie called The Avengers. Yeah the 2012 one.
As we get into the analysis portain my main takeaway was to just lean into the fun. The more you just accept the craziness for what it is, the more you enjoy it. There are some scenes that will make you think that ‘that’s not what would happen’, but apart from those handful of scenes it’s just a self contained madness. I personally found that the start was the slowest, but once Guy becomes self-aware, you can sit back and just take it all in.
Like I was saying in the intro, I was worried that the gaming element might be looked down on. However I couldn’t be more wrong. You can tell that time was spent to make sure respect was given to the genre, by leaning into the culture of it. For example real life gaming personalities such as Ninja, Pokimane, DanTDM, LazarBeam and Ireland’s very own JackSepticeye are given their own moment to shine, to react to the action in a format that resembles if the creators themselves were talking about the Blue Shirt Guy phenomenon in their own videos/streams. Also many classic weapons from games are featured such as the Portal Gun from the Portal Franchise, the Gravity Gun from Half-Life 2 among many more.
The mad thing about Free Guy is that my favourite character is played by a person that I didn’t even know was in it. They aren’t publicised as being in it anywhere, not in the trailer, not in the iMDb listings. I could only find one review that named them. Free Guy wants you to have those surprises though. Too often you can guess a movie’s conclusion from the first few minutes but I promise you won’t here. Which is definitely overall refreshing. Also this movie was produced by 20th Century Studios which was 20th Century Fox until it was bought by Disney. Remember that.
Now you might have thought this review was gonna be all sunshine and warm hugs, but hear me out, I’m gonna say a negative. There were some stages where I didn’t think all the CGI was 100% and it was slightly jarring. This isn’t a dig at the overall CGI work. 99% of the entire movie was beautiful and honestly is top tier, but in those few moments, it did take me out of the movie. That’s all the negativity.
Lastly, I just want to bring up a point that I feared for myself before the movie. Is Ryan Reynolds basically playing himself after getting old? Call me a madman all you want, but after The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard, I was left with some hesitancy. Fear not. All is well in the Universe as I was reminded of the sheer fun he can bring to a product. Obviously he has his surrounding cast full of great actors, so even if you too are questioning your loyalty to Blake Lively’s husband, don’t worry about it yeah.
Like I said many times throughout the review, Free Guy is just pure madness. It’s silly but heartwarming, crude but also romantic, but overall it’s just fun. It’s a stuff popcorn in your mouth and laugh away kind of flick. It’s reminiscent of Ready Player One but more grounded with hints of the Truman Show. Free Guy isn’t just a good movie, it’s a great movie.
Free Guy is in cinemas from the 13th August.