Free Guy Cast: Ryan Reynolds, Jodie Comer, Joe Keery, Taika Waititi
Free Guy Director: Shawn Levy
Free Guy Stars: 3.5/5
On several occasions, Ryan Reynolds has reiterated how Free Guy isn’t necessarily just a video game movie. After watching Free Guy, I concur! In what is possibly the best video game-genre’d “original” film in recent times, the Shawn Levy directorial is as gamer-friendly as it will be for non-gamers, like this reviewer. And with the classic Ryan Reynolds humour infused, you’re promised a summer blockbuster of epic proportions.
Free Guy narrates the ‘not so free’ life of Guy (Reynolds), a non-player character (NPC) inside Free City, an Antwan-owned (Taika Waititi) popular video game. Contrasting from the main ‘hero’ characters, whose special ability is in the sunglasses they possess, Guy is subjected to a 365-day, 24*7 daily routine; wake up, greet his cute goldfish with a “good morning, Goldie,” take the same coffee order, meet up with his best friend Buddy (Lil Rel Howery) and work at the bank. Oh, did I forget to mention, also be a hostage in consecutive bank robberies.
However, Guy’s “don’t have a good day, have a great day” attitude comes into questioning when he encounters a rebellious, leather-wearing Molotov Girl (Jodie Comer). Suddenly, Guy realises that he’s not as free-spirited as he’d like to be and that’s where the adventure for our good guy becomes prominent. What his definition of freedom is, is the focal point for Free Guy. Speaking of Molotov Girl, she’s actually video game developer Millie’s (Millie Rusk) avatar in Free City. Millie is on a deadline-driven mission to find something valuable that will aid her in a bigger fight, but I won’t spoil that for you. Other supporting characters include Keys (Joe Keery) and Mouser (Utkarsh Abudar). Keys, in particular, is obliged to work under Antwan’s megalomaniac work culture until it gets a little too frustrating.
While the storyline of Free Guy may seem a tad bit complicated when heard in prose, Matt Lieberman and Zak Penn’s witty screenplay infuses such positivity in a linear manner where you’re adept to tell apart the video game from real-life. Shawn, who has an affinity for bringing inanimate objects to life with the Night at the Museum franchise being a classic example, directs Free Guy to cater to gamers and non-gamers, alike. The script is laced with inside gaming jokes, tons of big gamers and celebrity cameos (keep a close check on the accents!) but there’s also a ton of heart. You’re left caring for most of these characters, especially, Guy. You’re rooting for him to, well, be free!
Big kudos for this empathetic sentiment lies in Ryan Reynolds, whose trusted shoulders carries the entire movie from plain ol’ fun to truly exciting. Ryan’s adorable ‘wide eyed’ quirks come in handy in expressing Guy’s disgruntled mindset, where just like Millie, you too fall for the good guy. Imagine an aloof Deadpool, the PG-13 version! Side Note: Look out for Guy’s ‘The Rock’ like alter-ego, Dude, you won’t regret it! On the other hand, Jodie proves her prowess as a promising charismatic leading lady, doing double duty and adding feistiness and vulnerability to her character. Sometimes, both of them at the same time. When it comes to their chemistry, there’s an ease to Reynolds and Comer, which doesn’t feel forced nor does it overstay its welcome because it is The ‘Guy’ Show.
However, it’s Ryan and the absolutely hilarious Lil Rel’s close bromance that’s the most poignant in Free Guy. Howery manages to bring out Buddy’s reluctance to join Guy in his fight with such warmth where you’re left enamoured by his life too. Joe, who for many is the best part of Stranger Things, plays the boyish, code-obsessed Keys with amicable confidence and his chemistry with Jodie is top notch while Utkarsh, an ardent gamer, looks like he’s having a ball of a time with his limited sequences. As for Taika, the obnoxious Antwan is given a funny bump up by Waititi’s over-the-top theatrics and it’s obvious that a lot of improvisation (cheesy, comedy gold!) went into the Oscar-winning filmmakers’ scenes in particular. It’s a shame though that we were deprived of the Reynolds-Waititi cinematic encounter. Calls for a sequel or prequel, doesn’t it?! Inevitably, it’s the cast that makes even the lame jokes stick its landing with the audience and that is something Levy takes plenty advantage of.
As I’d mentioned before, the clear demarcation between real life and Free City is perfectly balanced, thanks to George Richmond’s thrill-seeking cinematography and Dean Zimmerman’s tactful editing. Even the in-tune score by Christophe Beck, with Mariah Carey’s Fantasy cover by Jodie being a personal favourite, makes way for the crisp production design and vibrant visual effects. In particular, when the glasses are on, those action sequences are to watch out for.
P.S. Given how this is a Disney production, the ‘Easter eggs’ extravagant climax sequence in Free Guy is gobsmacking and will instantly give you the thrills and frills of watching big franchise movies in theatres. With the Ryan Reynolds twist, of course!
In finality, Free Guy is Ryan Reynolds’ ‘gaming-controlled’ The Truman Show but without the overt preachiness. Though a quip at gun violence was a subtle, amusing dig! With Free Guy, you’re in for that ‘summer blockbuster at the cinema’ feeling, which in today’s COVID-19 pandemic era, is sorely missed.