Free Guy: Film Review

Free Guy

20th Century Studios

Free Guy is one of the movies I’d been most excited about this year and while I enjoyed it a lot, I must admit it was nowhere near as amazing as I’d expected it to be.

Ryan Reynolds stars as Guy, a bank teller who is a non-player character (NPC) in the video game Free City, which is basically like Grand Theft Auto, with muggings, shootings, car chases and bank robberies occurring on the reg. One day, Guy somehow breaks free from his programming and takes on a life of his own when he meets Molotov Girl (Jodie Comer). She is the avatar of Millie, who is trying to find proof that Free City’s creator Antwan (Taika Waititi) stole her and Keys’ (Joe Keery) AI tech to make his game. Guy, who thinks she’s the love of his life, joins her mission.

First of all, I absolutely adore the original concept of Free Guy – thinking of these games from the perspective of a background character is genius! – and I was hyped to see how it would play out. It is very funny and I laughed out loud often, but still not as much as I’d hoped. The jokes don’t always land and I think Reynolds’ shtick is getting a bit old. I particularly enjoyed the beginning, where we are introduced to Guy, his world and his routine, and the final act, where director Shawn Levy makes use of Disney’s wealth of IP to glorious clap-worthy effect.

Reynolds is clearly having a lot of fun as Guy but there are also limits to what he can do within the constraints of his naive and always chipper character. Even though Reynolds is a fantastic Deadpool, I wish he would stop playing Deadpool when he’s supposed to be other characters or at least tries to be a little more different. The opening narration of Free Guy could easily be taken from a Deadpool movie, without a doubt.

My favourites were Comer and Keery. Comer gets to show off her range by playing two characters – her feisty and badass avatar and the very normal Millie – and she delivers on the action star front as well as the very relatable human front. I really liked Keery as her professional partner and conflicted tech nerd and I want to see him in more projects. Waititi throws his all into the douchey Antwan and his larger-than-life performance was pretty grating, but I imagine that’s the whole point. I also enjoyed Lil Rel Howery as Guy’s NPC friend Buddy and Utkarsh Ambudkar as Keys’ colleague Mouser.

Free Guy – which might make you think of films such as The Truman Show and Ready Player One – is littered with Easter eggs and cameos that certainly make a case for a second viewing. I loved a lot of the ideas and it is visually astounding, but I wanted the film to be amazing and it’s just quite good, which is a real bummer.

In cinemas now

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Robin’s Wish: Film Review

Robin Williams

There have been a few celebrity deaths that have upset me more than they reasonably should, considering I don’t know the person in real life, and a prime example is Robin Williams. The shock news of his death in August 2014 made me so sad that I had tears in my eyes writing about it at work.

For weeks after he died, the media widely reported (or should I say misreported) his death via suicide stemmed from his history of depression and addiction issues, when he was, in fact, sober at the time and unaware he was battling a degenerative disease – Lewy body dementia (LBD) – a diagnosis only discovered in the coroner’s report.

His widow Susan Schneider Williams has been raising awareness about LBD ever since her husband died and has teamed up with director Tylor Norwood to address the misunderstandings around Williams’ death, his experience with LBD from 2013 until he died, and him being misdiagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. The documentary features scientists explaining the disease, friends recalling fun moments with him as well as memories of his deteriorating health, and co-workers on his last projects.

The result is a profoundly moving and poignant documentary about one of Hollywood’s great comedians and actors, with my personal childhood favourites being Jumanji, Aladdin, Flubber, and Hook. It’ll be more affecting if you’re a fan of his work (I obviously shed some tears!) but even if you’re not, I’ll be impressed if you don’t feel something hearing his close friends and co-workers talking about how this quick-witted, loud and confident man became paranoid, anxious, filled with self-doubt, suffered from delusions, hallucinations, and insomnia, and kept trying to get to the bottom of what was wrong with his mind as he wasn’t satisfied with the Parkinson’s diagnosis.

The most affecting testimony for me came from Shawn Levy, who directed Williams in the Night at the Museum franchise, with the third being filmed in early 2014 and released later that year, months after he passed. Speaking publicly about this for the first time, Levy recalled how different Williams was on the last film; how he had lost his confidence and morale, struggled with lines, and told him “I’m not myself anymore”. David E. Kelley, the creator of TV sitcom The Crazy Ones, echoed this and also spoke about Williams having to hide a tremoring hand in his pocket. Schneider Williams anchors the whole piece together and provides poignant personal insight into his condition, as do close friends and his neighbours in Marin County.

I found this documentary to be really eye-opening – I had no idea what was going on in Williams’ life in the months leading up to his death – and incredibly sad. If you are fan, this is a must-watch.

Out now on Digital and On Demand on all major platforms. For more information please go to https://www.robinswishfilm.com/

Rating: 4 out of 5.