What if the random side characters in our video games could grow and learn for themselves? What a crazy concept to process? We escape into video games all the time to be someone else. We interact with these other characters as they spout their preprogrammed comments as directed. But 20th Century Pictures new comedy, Free Guy, sends a shockwave into that system. And better yet, we have Ryan Reynolds’ charm to carry us along the way!
Why is Reynolds so charming as Guy? Guy is a man living his best life (or at least as far as he knows) like Emmett from The LEGO Movie. Reynolds balances sweet genuine interactions with sarcastic jabs that feel aloof but we, the audience, know what the film is going for. He hangs out with his best friend, Lil Rel Howery in a fun yet yelling performance, but then…BAM! Jodie Comer arrives as this badass character who sparks something in Guy. Guy is now inspired to truly live…but how could this be? This love story is honestly sweet and genuine in unexpected ways. Comer and Reynolds are magnetic together and the story has plenty of twists that add layers to this romantic journey.
But is this film just about this sweet romance? There is another plot thread centered around corporate greed and the “little guy” fighting for their recognition. Comer’s Millie is a developer looking for evidence of her code (along with her former partner played by Joe Keery) hidden inside Guy’s game. The developer of this game is a live action cartoon villain played with manic energy by Taika Waititi. Waititi’s Antoine lacks depth, but he certainly has plenty of fun anyway. This thread is not as interesting as the personal journey that Guy goes on, but it adds dimensions while also opening the film for plenty of video game-based lampooning. This is a hilarious film, mind you.
The stories are certainly fun and engaging as they are bolstered by strong and committed performances, but what else does Free Guy offer to make it stand out? SO many references. You can probably fill a book with all the game references, YouTubers making appearances, and random cameos. The IP that gets highlighted in the film is also tons of fun and really captures the jokes that the film is going for. Director Shawn Levy brings a madcap energy to the film with a wonderfully over-the-top tone that just oozes camp and fun. This film also benefits from Levy’s ability to inject heart into any pulpy situation.
Do you want to have some genuine back at the movies? Do you want to channel your inner gamer and get lost in this crazy digital world? Do you want to feel some sweet romance in an unexpected way? Energy, fun music, electric performances, and buckets of heart make Free Guy some must see cinema. I cannot tell you anymore about the film…these surprises should not be ruined. Now head to your nearest theater when you feel ready and have some fun!