Movie Review: Free Guy (2021)

Directed by Shaun Levy (The Night at the Museum trilogy, Real Steel), Free Guy is a 2021 action/comedy centred around a bank worker, Guy (Ryan Reynolds) who is a non-playable character (NPC) inside an online video game, Free City. Alongside his buddy, Buddy (Lil Rel Howery), Guy goes about his days to a strict schedule, but soon notices Millie Rusk, aka MolotovGirl (Jodie Comer), and attempts to get her attention in the game world. In the real world, Walters “Keys” McKeys (Joe Keery, Stranger Things) and Mouser (Utkarsh Ambudkar) are working for video game company Soonami, under its head Antwan (Taika Waititi). At the same time, Rusk and Keys are together attempting to find proof that Antwan has illegally used their own game code inside Free City.

+ it’s no secret I lost a lot of steam for Reynolds’ “snarky hot guy” routine, but it comes across different enough here to make me forget that; Guy is na├»ve and innocent, not just a wise-ass jerk, and that is the big difference. Guy’s friend Buddy (Howery) is a personal highlight, as he actually acts the way I imagine a real NPC would. None of the other main characters were anything special, in a good or bad direction (but, see below for more)
+ there are a lot of famous cameos/voice cameos, including Hugh Jackman, John Krasinksi, Dawyne Johnson, Channing Tatum and a particularly funny Chris Evans moment. Maybe I should call them ‘Easter eggs’ instead, to fit with the video game theme?

– primary antagonist Antwan (Waititi) was not menacing, nor did he ever appear competent as an actual threat, nor was he funny or involved in anything that made me feel he was actually the antagonist. I also didn’t particularly care for his motives, nor the way he stood against Millie and Keys, and his entire character seemed a reason to have someone make some funny faces and say a few lousy jokes
– I was not a huge fan of the way that various non-video game specific jokes were put in, such as an appearance of Captain America’s shield and a lightsabre; the Portal gun and Mega Man‘s hand cannon felt more relevant to the setting. This is the same issue I had with The Lego Batman Movie actually being “The Lego Warner Bros. Properties Movie”, though it was done better there. Similarly, I’d have liked some more jokes about the concepts of video games in general. Reynolds, Comer and Waititi have mentioned in interviews they don’t play video games, and frankly I think that’s clear

> this film had one F-bomb in it, and I can’t help but think it was really out of place. It would have made a lot more sense for Chris Evans to get it in his cameo, instead
> apparently there were a lot of real-world YouTubers/streamers/gaming personalities in this, but I didn’t really know any of them. If that’s your thing, you might see someone you know

Should you see this film: This review has ended up being quite short, because I simply don’t really know what to say. I’m sure you’ll like this movie, as I’m sure anyone would, because it feels like it was made to appeal to everyone; gamers, non-gamers, comic book fans, those sick of comic book movies, action movie lovers, comedy movie lovers. It’s all very safe.

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