Director: Shawn Levy
Written by: Matt Liberman & Zak Penn
Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Jodie Comer, Lil Rel Howery, Ukarsh Ambudkar, Joe Keery and Taika Waititi
Video Games have come a long way in the last few years, so having a second life inside a game like Grand Theft Auto doesn’t feel that far from reality. Free Guy takes that one step further with the NPCs (Non-playable characters) becoming sentient. It’s great to see Ryan Reynolds completely redeem himself after The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard. Free Guy is a superb comedy and the most fun I’ve had in the cinema this year.
If you mix The Matrix and They Live with The Lego Movie and Wreck-It Ralph, then you get Free Guy. Guy (Ryan Reynolds, Deadpool) lives his life by routine, Groundhog Day style, not realising that he is an NPC in an online game. He starts to want more from life, and once he puts on a pair of sunglasses, he starts to realise the world around him isn’t quite what it seems.
Free Guy could have easily fallen into a trap of an overload pop culture references, meta humour and not doing anything more than that (See Space Jam: A New Legacy for the most recent example). While there are a lot of references and a fair few cameos, the film never relies on them. It’s funny in its own right, with great characters and jokes that hit the mark more often than not. The references and cameos, from YouTubers to megastars, are also great and work brilliantly.
Most of the humour comes from Reynolds’ timing and delivery. If you’re a fan of Deadpool or Detective Pikachu, then you will most likely love Free Guy. On the other hand, if Reynolds generally annoys you, then this isn’t going to win you over. He’s doing what he does best.
The characters are all great and play off each other perfectly. Guy and Buddy (Lil Rel Howery, Get Out) are fantastic every time they are screen together. If anything, there isn’t enough time with Buddy. The same can be said of the villain Antwan (Taika Waititi, Jojo Rabbit). As always Waititi is fantastic every time he’s on screen and you wish you’ll get more of him. Millie (Jodie Comer, Killing Eve) who enlists Guy’s help to take down Antwan, is fantastic in every scene. The mini-ice-cream-date they go on is one of the highlights.
There are so many great moments throughout the two hour thrill-ride, from the repeating bank robbery to the final confrontation with Guy’s nemesis, the aptly named Dude. There isn’t a moment that feels boring or tedious. The whole thing rips along, accompanied by a roaring soundtrack. The whole thing feels like a live-action Lego Movie in the best way possible.
If you think about the film too much, then it does unravel. The bad guys in the real world don’t seem to really be active unless they are on screen, so the heroes get to progress a lot without much interference. The logic the world sets up also doesn’t make that much sense under scrutiny, but none of it matters. The humour is there, the lovable characters are there and it’s not the type of film to overthink. Just sit back and enjoy.
There is so much heart in Free Guy and so much to love. Its central concept may already becoming a little overdone in recent years (with not only the ones I’ve mentioned, but others such as Ready Player One and Pixels to name a couple more), but it feels fresh here. This is a charming film that is filled with passion and humour. It’s simply fantastic.