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.

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