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Free Guy (2021) – Review: An Entertaining Summer Blockbuster That Introduces Audiences to a Great Guy

August 5, 2021

Quick Thoughts – Grade – B+ – Free Guy is an absolute delight, and if you’re looking for a fun summer blockbuster to watch, you can’t go wrong with Ryan Reynolds, Jodie Comer, and They Live references.

The Shawn Levy (Stranger Things, Night at the Museum, Real Steel) directed Free Guy is a welcome breath of fresh air as it’s not a sequel, remake, reboot or adaptation. The majority of the trailers have focused on the “newness” of it all, and that can’t be argued as Free Guy has the audacity to tell a new story (while still sneaking in They Live, Her, The Truman Show, and Ready Player One references) and be occasionally weird enough to let Taika Waitit go full-ham on his dialogue  The PG-13 film written by Zak Penn (Ready Player One, The Avengers) and Matt Lieberman (The Christmas Chronicles) is loaded with fun action scenes, cool chases, and zero jet ski action scenes (I really was hoping for one), and it manages to sneak in welcome doses of snark and heart. 

The film revolves around a guy named Guy (Ryan Reynolds), who enjoys hot coffee, blue shirts, Mariah Carey, and chatting with his best friend Buddy (lil Rey Howery) while the bank they work at is robbed every single day. Guy is a non-playable character (NPC) inside the video game Free City, which allows players to murder innocents, rob banks, and cruise around the open world doing whatever they want so they can build their scores. On a fateful day, Guy becomes self-aware when he meets Molotov Girl/Mille (Jodie Comer), a gaming legend who catches his attention because she sings Mariah Carey’s “Fantasy” and doesn’t try to murder or rob him. From there, Guy starts leveling up in the game by doing good deeds, and his celebrity grows as the gaming community latches onto his kind antics, and wants to know his gaming identity. This draws the attention of Antoine (Taika Waititi – wonderful), the owner of the video game company, who doesn’t like the direction Guy is taking gamers. 

Throw in Joe Keery’s character Keys, who works with Antoine, and developed the Free City code with Millie (which Antoine stole), and you have multiple subplots that all tie together nicely. It’s neat watching Guy level up with kindness, and assisting Millie in her attempt to find the proof that Antoine stole from her and Keys. The idea of the constantly murdered NPC characters uniting together to stop brutal gamers is wonderful, and it would be a shame to spoil anything else (the trailers have already done this, but I won’t). 

Another bonus of Free Guy is that it features a totally earnest performance from Reynolds. It’s a welcome departure from his hugely successful Deadpool-shtick (which is very fun), and it’s neat watching Guy develop and learn as he progresses through the film (look out for the cappuccino moment). Also, the costume and production design by Marlene Stewart and Ethan Tobman prove to be super memorable, and there’s no doubt that many people will be cosplaying as Guy in the future, as his blue button up shirt (and henley) will be instantly recognizable. The sets all look great too, and there are a few large builds that look super cool and do a fine job of selling the video game world.

Final thoughts – Free Guy is a lot of fun, and I hope it does well with audiences and critics. The world needs more original films like it.

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