by Nick L’Barrow
Do you remember seeing the trailer for the new Ryan Reynolds movie Free Guy in December 2019? Then again in October 2020? Then again in July 2021? Well finally, after a long awaited, COVID-delayed release, the new video game centric action-comedy is here… and it was worth the wait!
Reynolds is Guy, an NPC (non-player character) inside the fictional video-game world of Free City, a town that is run rampant with thugs, violence, and daily bank robberies (all at the hands of mostly 13–16-year-old children and their gaming consoles), ala Grand Theft Auto. However, this doesn’t phase Guy, his friend Buddy (Lil Rel Howery) or the other citizens of Free City, as they go on about their daily routines within the game. That is until Guy meets the girl of his dreams, a player by the name of MolotovGirl (Jodie Comer), who on in real life is Millie. Millie is on a revenge mission to takedown a giant gaming conglomerate that stole her idea, leading her and Guy are sent on a journey to save Free City from the game’s creator, Antwan (Taika Waititi).
Video game movies are never safe from judgment from gaming and film fans alike, with the proof being that The Angry Birds Movie 2 is the highest rated video-game adaptation on Rotten Tomatoes! However, even though Free Guy is an original IP, and not based on any previous gaming franchises, it successfully captures what a video game feels like through insane action scenes that defy physics, inside-joke gaming humour and a visually eye-popping display of a neon world that transports the audience right into Free City.
Much like a video game, the world of Free City is electric, colourful and vibrant. The CGI is ever-present (which is to be expected) and is utilized incredibly well to differentiate what is happening inside the game, as opposed to the real world, which comes across as dull and lifeless. Whether it’s in-game markers for missions, one-hundred-plus vehicle crashes with an explosion added for good measure or players using special abilities acquired in the game, there are many elements of Free City that feel exciting to watch, even as a standalone story.
However, what really makes Free Guy work is its surprisingly heartwarming story, led by a chemistry-filled performance from both Reynolds and Comer. Guy as a character is basically how you would expect Reynolds to be based of his social media and interview presence. Guy is a happy-go-lucky soul who also sees the best in everyone around him. Mix this charming personality with the ad-libbing, comedic genius that Reynolds is now famous for, and Guy is a protagonist that is incredibly easy to root for, while providing a laugh a minute. The humour also lends a hand to a more mature audience, which is a big positive as there is plenty of things in this film that families and older audiences should get a kick out off. Comer as MolotovGirl/Millie is the opposite of Guy within the game, and their opposites-attract vibrancy creates as many comedic moments, as it does heartfelt moments as their relationships progresses throughout the story.
Everything within Free City and the mission our two leads must go on are undoubtedly the highlights of the film, and Free Guy makes the smart decision to focus heavily on scenes inside the game. The story that takes place outside the game focuses on the battle between Millie and Antwan. While this creates the catalyst for the story to progress and give purpose to what happens within the game, there are a few scenes here that slow the pace of the movie down. The script still allows the audience to gravitate emotionally towards Millie and her plight against Antwan’s company, and Comer’s performance outside of the game is just as strong as it is inside, but when everything within Free City is so engaging and fun, it was hard not to want the movie to keep going back into the game for some more fun with Reynolds and Comer!
Free Guy visually is just like experiencing a video game. The action is colourful and captivating and as ridiculous as you would expect it to be! This mixed with the charisma and comedic talent of Reynolds makes this movie a hell of a lot of fun. But, what is truly memorable about Free Guy is the heartwarming feeling of positivity that it carries from start to finish. Plus, be on the look out for some incredibly surprising and hilarious easter eggs and cameos throughout!
Free Guy is now showing in cinemas only.