What if… your life turns out to be under someone else’s control without you realizing it? It happens to Ryan Reynolds in the entertaining but sometimes a bit too witty action comedy Free Guy .
The True Guy Show
Guy (Ryan Reynolds) has a perfect life, he thinks. Every day he greets the things: his goldfish Goldie, an apocalyptic-sounding newscast, the barista who gives him his usual cup of coffee, his best friend and colleague Buddy (Lil Rel Howery, Get Out ), and the bank robbers who get into their routine every day. disturb and strangers on the street. Apocalyptic news? bank robbers? That’s commonplace in Free City, but Guy doesn’t realize how strange that is.
He is in fact an NPC in a video game very similar to Grand Theft Auto , in which you have to complete missions to get higher. Usually by force. Guy is programmed to give players background and cannot make decisions on his own. Yet until he meets Molotovgirl aka Millie (Jodie Comer, Killing Eve ) and he starts to change his routine. As a player, she is looking for evidence to take on Antwan, the owner of the game studio (Taika Waititi, Jojo Rabbit ). Guy takes it upon himself to help her, only to become something that cannot be done: a piece of software that breaks free from his programming. Gamers around the world watch Guy go against the ‘rules’ of the game and he becomes a sensation. Antwan naturally wants to thwart that.
As you read, there is a lot going on in Free Guy . First and foremost, this is a film that makes excellent use of the mechanics of a game and that translates well to another medium. Game adaptations remain difficult on the right canvas, just think of Warcraft or Assassin’s Creed . Free Guy uses the ostensible key to success that the Jumanji movies also did: using the unique elements of gaming and knitting your story around them. In Free City we have all the constant street violence, but as Guy gets more involved, heads-up displays with placeholders, items to pick up and unpredictable appearances and locations follow.
But the film also touches on a few existential themes, albeit fleetingly. When Guy realizes more and more, he also becomes more and more intelligent. How intelligent must something be before it is considered a living being? Artificial intelligence is only making progress. In addition, there are Truman Show-like issues that we don’t want to think about further. How do you know if you really have free will and if this is the reality? Movies like Her and Ex Machina are of course much more into it, but I think it’s remarkable that they put this, gaming and programming language in a film for a wide audience—and not on a ‘ Will someone think of the children? ‘-way.
Simulation or not, Free Guy mainly wants to exhort us to maintain spontaneity in life and take control, not settle for something that makes you unhappy. A nice sentiment, but much easier for someone like Ryan Reynolds than the man on the street who has to pay the bills every month. Although there may be one feasible option: surrendering ourselves less to the algorithms that already determine our lives. Social media today has become a way of controlling the image others have of us, but don’t we secretly admire those who can stay away from it? I do otherwise.
Zuckerberg and Bezos out of the curve
If you’re not into the double entendres, this is just a cool action comedy that actually gets better towards the end (and gives you bang for your buck in 4DX!). Then the two big storylines come together and we get two heists that are quite compelling. This is mainly due to the great cast. Ryan Reynolds is the kind of actor who can make you believe anything, no matter how absurd. The genuinely innocent Guy, the Guy in search of more, the amorous Guy—Reynolds continues to be a joy to watch. However, after the past few years, with Deadpool , Detective Pikachu and the Hitman’s Bodyguard films in particular, it may well be time for, for example, the Reynolds from Buried, because with all that humor a person would sometimes forget that he can do that too.
If you didn’t know Jodie Comer from the wonderful Killing Eve , go make up your own mind. In Free Guy , she strikes a perfect balance between unimaginably cool as a Molotov girl and completely recognizable as Millie. If there’s justice, she’s going to go far. We always love to see Lil Rel Howery come, and Joe Keery ( Stranger Things ) is also very charming as Millie’s childhood friend/ex-colleague.
The only one who is oddly out of place is the otherwise always witty Taika Waititi. As Antwan, he plays a mix of Mark Zuckerberg and Jeff Bezos who goes a little too far. Not all jokes hit the mark, but so do other moments in the film. Matt Lieberman and Zak Penn’s script drops a little bit towards half, only to pick up the pace again towards the last, very entertaining 25 minutes. Director Shawn Levy also produces Stranger Things, so you know how to process a number of recognizable elements in a story. Also, try to keep an eye out for some cameos (including someone urgently needing to dance again) and references throughout. We weren’t exactly happy with the merger of 20th Century Fox (now Studios) and Disney, but a few moments in Free Guy ease that pain just a little bit.