At long last the new Ryan Reynolds feature Free Guy has arrived. It is very enjoyable, funny, a touching film and one of the best video game-themed films ever made.
The film was due to be released in July of 2020 but had three release date changes due to the ongoing Pandemic, and started production under 20th Century Fox and continued under Disney after their acquisition of the studio.
Reynolds stars as Guy, an affable Bank Teller who has a very ritualized life of getting up; he gets his morning coffee on his way to work, chats with his friend Buddy the Security Guard (Lil Rey Howery) at work, and enduring a bank robberies in between serving customers.
Guy likes his life, but hopes to meet a woman he can share it with – but thinks that may not be in the cards for him. Things change when a mysterious woman arrives. Guy’s entire world changes in an instant. It changes again when he dons a special pair of sunglasses, Guy sees the world as it really is, and learns that he is in an open-world video game.
While this alone would be a great setting, the film has a secondary story. Millie is trying desperately to locate some missing data in the game which she believes will prove that the owner of the game, an egotistical narcissist named Antoine (Taika Waititi), has stolen from her and her former coder Keys (Joe Keery) and used it in the game’s engine. He is the arch-enemy that Guy and Millie must team up to defeat.
While the film has nods to prior films like TRON, The Truman Show, Ready Player One, and other films, Free Guy takes a refreshing, original approach with plenty of heart, and the leads and cast are very enjoyable and easy to support.
There is an abundance of visual effects, of course, but they work with the characters to frame and enhance the story and world they interact instead of being the focal point, unlike some movies that come across as an elaborate FX reel versus a fully realized film.
There are numerous cameos in the film as well, and some of the characters are also voiced by famous people, so audiences will want to watch the credits to get the full list – it is impressive.
“Free Guy” was a very enjoyable mix of humor and action and is not only one of the best video game-themed films ever made, but one of the best genre movies of 2021, enjoyable from start to finish.