Free Guy Review: Ready Player One Meets The Truman Show
Ryan Reynolds is Guy, a sprightly man who works at the bank with his best bud – Buddy. Guy is just one of the many content citizens of Free City, who, despite the chaos caused by the ‘sunglasses, people’ go about their daily lives with no complaints. Unknown to the citizens of Free City, they are Non-playable Characters in a popular online game, but one day Guy becomes self-aware and decides to step out from the background and become a hero.
If Ready Player One had a baby with The Truman Show you would get Free Guy. Is it better than The Truman Show? No. Is it better than Ready Player One? Yes – by many miles.
RPR: Ready Player Reynolds
Ryan Reynolds slips into Guy’s shoes with ease, and that’s mostly because he’s doing the same routine he does in most comedies. If you’ve seen Deadpool or Van Wilder, or even Detective Pikachu, then you know exactly what you’re getting. His performance in Free Guy is very much a “stick to what you know” type of performance, and yet it works perfectly fine in the film, so much so that I couldn’t imagine another actor in the role.
Joining Reynolds is Jodie Comer, Joe Keery, Lil Rel Howery, and Taika Waititi. Comer plays Millie/Molotov Girl, a player from the real world searching for evidence that Antwan (Waititi) stole her program and illegally inserted it into Free City. Unaware that he’s an NPC, Millie befriends Guy, and the two embark on a mission to find the evidence she needs.
Before Comer enters the picture, Reynolds is paired with Lil Rel Howery’s Buddy, who isn’t the most interesting character in the movie, and doesn’t have too much to do. But Howery and Reynolds bounce off of each other so well that their on-screen friendship is nothing more than wholesome.
Jodie Comer is as great as always, and she’s able to share the screen with Reynolds without completely stealing it, which I fully believe she has the ability to do. Like Reynolds, Comer technically plays two roles: the role of Molotov Girl, who is a no-nonsense badass, and the role of Millie, a somewhat reclusive programmer who is almost an exact opposite of Molotov Girl.
Joe Keery plays Walter, Millie’s ex-partner who went to work for Antwan, the very man Millie is attempting to sue. Keery’s timid and adorkable is a breath of fresh air from the chaos of Free City, and he helps keep the scenes with Antwan a little more bearable. Speaking of Antwan…
Taika Waititi is one of my favourite directors, and I’m sad to say that his performance is scenery-chewing and annoying. So much so that his scenes did nothing but help slow the movie down to a plodding pace.
AFK: Away From Keyboard
Free Guy is a film with two faces. We’ve got the virtual world of Free City and the drama occurring in the real world. The cartoonishness of Free City would usually put me off a film, but to my surprise, it was the real-world aspects of the film that I found graining to watch.
The real world has two major plots occurring at once. Millie’s quest to find the evidence needed for her lawsuit and the internal issues Soonami (the company behind Free City) is facing with the launch of Free City 2 plus the problems Guy is causing them.
The real-world sections of the film start fine and engaging, but at around the halfway mark, we start spending too much time there. It’s a similar way that the Transformers films suffer from – the robots are there, but we’re not spending enough time with them. Instead, the audience is lumbered with the human characters. Free Guy has us spend too much time in the real world with real humans.
The second act also has cameos from real-life game-streamers like Jacksepticeye, Ninja, and Pokimane. The inclusion of streamers is a clever idea since they have been a big part of the video game industry for a long time, but I wouldn’t even consider their roles as cameos because they begin to appear far too much. Their fleeing appearances soon become hamfisted once we continue to cut back to them during some of the films significant moments. It’s nothing but distracting.
GLHF: Good Luck Have Fun
Free Guy excels at capturing the chaotic world of online games, particularly Grand Theft Auto Online, which is clearly this films inspiration. Despite its derivativeness and slow second act, Free Guy manages to overcome most of its flaws to become one of the better action comedies we’ve had in a while.
And with funny dialogue, fantastic set-pieces, and actors who can juggle between seriousness, surrealism, and slapstick, Free Guy is an entertaining flick that will make for a great first trip back to cinemas.
Free Guy releases in cinemas on Friday, 13th August. It’s written by Matt Lieberman and Zak Penn, directed by Shawn Levy, and a product of 20th Century Studios.
Note: Avoid the new trailers if you want absolutely no spoilers, because one of the new ads reveals the final boss in the movie. Which would have been a fun reveal had Disney not decide to run the commercials in cinemas (which is how I saw it).