Life’s too short to be a background character and Ryan Reynolds is about to find out just how much fun you can have when you level up in the hilariously, action-packed heartfelt cinematic blockbuster thrill ride that is Free Guy!
In the open world video game Free City, Guy (Reynolds) is a non-player character (NPC) working as a bank teller. Thanks to a program developed by programmers Millie (Comer) and Keys (Keery) inserted into Free City by the publisher Antwan (Waititi), Guy becomes self-aware of his world being a video game, and takes steps to make himself the hero, creating a race against time to save the game before the developers can shut it down.
Taking audiences inside a fully-rendered video game universe come to life is comedy all-star director Shawn Levy and with Ryan Reynolds at his side, these two creative partners craft one of the most enjoyable times at the cinema you’ll have all year. In Free Guy, Levy takes audiences inside the world of Free City, an off-the-wall crazy video game metropolis come to life that is packed out with slick heroes, exploding cars, non-stop gunfire and where the rules of the real world don’t apply. Levy builds a world that is an utter spectacle to witness, and it’s in this crazy environment that he introduces us to Ryan Reynolds’ ever-loveable Guy who is about to level up in a very big way.
Mixing together different genres from action cinema to hair-raising comedy, the heartfelt love story and the blockbuster special effects rollercoaster, Levy crafts what is undoubtedly one of the most original cinematic presentations of the last decade. And it’s so much fun to watch. But what Levy really gets right is the heart and joy of this film, and Free Guy is ultimately the story of an NPC who finds a way to take control of his life and the results are very fun to watch. Mixing together the narratives of both Free City and the real world keeps the narrative of Free Guy very entertaining and Levy and his crew have a lot of fun in taking audiences for a real ride with this one.
Ryan Reynolds might be one of Hollywood’s biggest stars, but in Free Guy, he’s just Guy, an everyday, ordinary bank teller, also known as ‘blue-shirt guy’ who is a little too content with his life. That is until one shocking moment spins his world in a loop and soon Guy’s on a mission not just to be the good guy, but the great guy! Leaning into his spot on improvisation skills Reynolds keeps the energy and momentum of Free Guy fun and engaging, and with this evolving character and his knack for comedic timing you never know what he’s going to do next. There’s also a certain meta quality to Reynolds performance in Free Guy and he fully embraces the fun, zaniness and totally out there energy that exists within this narrative.
Finding herself at the centre of Guy’s world as his ultimate dreamgirl is rising star Jodie Comer as Molotov Girl/Milly and things get very complicated for Comer in this film. Existing as both a Free City avatar, alongside living her life in the real world, Milly goes on quite a journey alongside Guy, and the two of them grow and evolve together throughout the film and form a connection that will absolutely resonate with audiences. Comer is utterly impressive in her first major film appearance and completely keeps up with Reynolds, alongside giving the Canadian performer a real run for the money with her own performance in the film. Great on-screen chemistry keeps things interesting and Comer really makes the role her own.
But every story needs a villain and they don’t come more disdastardly than New Zealand’s very own Taika Waititi in the role of kooky tech publisher Antwan. And Taika’s performance is completely off the wall here! As the puppeteer of Free City, Antwan is only concerned with the profit margin and wielding absolute power has turned him into one hell of a troll and he wastes no time in letting his underlings know where they stand. Waititi makes for a hilariously funny bully as Antwan and there’s a terrific Kiwi flavour to his performance as Antwan, and audiences will be in uncontrollable fits of laughter thanks to his performance and the choices he makes in the role.
Did we mention that Free Guy is a wild ride? Yep, it totally is! The laws of physics don’t apply in the crazy landscape of Free City and it’s incredible to watch this multiplayer video game world come to life on the big screen. Director Shawn Levy and his team really crank up the volume with the action of Free Guy, and Reynolds gets to do some utterly crazy things as he sets off to be the great guy. Free Guy really does have everything you could want in an action movie and the results speak for themselves with some crazy set-pieces. And while I do want to stay away from spoilers, I will say that pop culture fanatics will be in for some thoroughly awesome treats with this movie…so keep your eyes open.
Alongside the action of Free Guy is the comedy. And it’s EPIC! Seriously this film is hilariously funny, and when Reynolds, Comer and Waititi start cracking jokes there’s no stopping them. Plus there’s the nuances and general hilarity of the video game world of Free City and the actions of its ‘community’ of Free City that only adds to the laughs. You can also expect a few hilarious surprises along the way as well, and one such surprise single-handedly had me in an uncontrollable fit of laughter. You’ll know it when you see it, and this special guest really brings out the LOLs of Free Guy. Trust me.
I also can’t forget to mention the heart of Free Guy as well, and there’s plenty to love and adore with this film because at its core Free Guy is ultimately a love story. That’s right, romance is in the air and from the moment he hears Molotov Girl humming Mariah Carey’s ‘Fantasy’ he’s completely smitten and these two go on a wondrous journey of first love as they come together to not only save Free City, but also each other. But that’s not where the love ends, and this digital love spills out into the real world and this is where it gets really interesting in Free Guy. The love that exists between Guy and Molotov Girl is sweet, nostalgic and ultimately heartfelt and audiences will be sure to have all the feels with this one.
From beginning to end, Free Guy is a story of love, adventure and explosions, but Levy, Reynolds, Comer, Waititi and the rest of the cast and crew work to tell a very engaging story of what it means to wake up to your life and ultimately make it the best it can possibly be. This is a story of possibility, optimism and hope, and watching Free Guy you can’t help but feel the joy. Are there obstacles and difficulties to overcome? Of course there are, but this is a story that asks its audience to believe in the possible and shows how working together can ultimately lead to some very big wins. You can’t help but feel joyful and positive after watching this movie and it really is so much fun!
Free Guy is far and away one of the most original and creatively enjoyable pieces of cinema that I can remember watching in a long, long time. Every part of this movie is an utter joy to watch and its perfect combination of creative expression, topline performance, bombastic action and heartfelt romance will leave you with a very big smile on your face. It’s not simply a good movie….IT’S A GREAT MOVIE!
Image: 20th Century Studios