Considering video game movies are almost universally horrible, it is really exciting to see a film like Free Guy dive headfirst into the tropes that have destroyed the genre in the past and come out on top. Most of these issues are defeated by Ryan Reynolds, who plays Guy. Guy is the standard video game Non-Player Character (NPC) who doesn’t have any real weight in the world of Free City, a massively multiplayer online game inhabited by countless blood-thirsty gamers.
Guy is just like everyone else in Free City – he does his job, he speaks to his pal Buddy (Lil Rel Howery), he goes home; rinse, repeat.
But when he bumps into real-life gamer Millie (Jodie Comer) his world turns upside down.
In an attempt to impress her, Guy acquires a pair of sunglasses used by the players which allow him to see the video gamification of the world around him, and in turn level up and help her on her quest.
While the overall plot of Free Guy is quite by the numbers, the smaller moments in the film really stand out.
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Reynolds’ chic flavour of performance somehow isn’t boring yet, giving the film new life at every turn. On top of this, the absolutely unbelievable cameos really make the movie a memorable experience (seriously, there are some doozies in there).
Millie is a deeply interesting character. Although Guy is the protagonist of the film, the screen comes alive when Comer arrives.
When Millie is in the virtual world she is strong, determined, a force to be reckoned with. As MolotovGirl (Millie’s online avatar) Comer channels that stunning Villanelle prowess she has displayed so expertly in Killing Eve for the past few years.
In the real world, Millie is more reserved. She’s nervous. Uncertain. At one point she sincerely explains how she craves validation, despite the fact she knows she doesn’t need it.
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Overall, Millie is just fantastic, and – just like Olivia Cooke’s Sam from Ready Player One – she is the real protagonist of the film.
Millie’s backstory is entwined with programmer Keys (Joe Keery), one of Free City’s developers from its game company Soonami.
Together, they fight against the malevolent owner of Soonami, Antwan (Taika Waititi), who is uninspiringly up to no good.
Waititi is sometimes exciting and often frustrating as Free Guy’s main villain. While his performance ranges from quippy hits to over-the-top physicality, he never really comes off as anything other than the wild comedy relief, ultimately destroying some of the stakes surrounding the film.
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Thankfully, Reynolds picks up some of the slack with his unique brand of comedy, revitalising any dull moments.
After joining forces with Guy, Millie discovers the secrets behind Free City and finally some hope for her retribution.
Free Guy does have something really special inside it, though. Running through the centre of the narrative is a love story so subtle and refreshing that viewers may not even see it coming.
Instead of being bashed over the head with cliches and wrote moments of long-lost loves, they are given a really unexpected journey into relationships.
Unfortunately, Fall Guy does fall extremely short towards the end of its run.
Some of the final scenes are bogged down by the elongation of Antwan’s devilish moments.
Also, the aforementioned love story within Free Guy is stamped out in its final instant, never really giving it the payoff it really deserved. I just needed another few minutes.
Free Guy is a brash, thrilling, and unexpected dose of excitement. Ryan Reynolds and Jodie Comer are flawless, creating memorable characters who will certainly gain a fanbase, despite the wobbly main plot. The anaemic story feels like it needed just a bit more fleshing out, despite the fact the heart running through it was a fantastic addition to the genre.
Free Guy hits cinemas on August 13, 2021.
Read More: Hollywood News