Ryan Reynolds levels up with big laughs and almost all the VR rules.
In recent memory, we’ve seen a bad guy wanting to be the hero in “Wreck-It Ralph,” and Kevin Hart being annoyed at the non-player characters (NPC for short) for repeating their lines in “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle,” but never have we’ve seen a movie about the NPC being the hero. That position goes to Ryan Reynolds in “Free Guy,” in which he’s a bank teller named Guy with the motto: “Don’t have a good day. Have a great day.” He lives in Free City, a video game world with bank robbers, car crashes, explosions, tanks, police cars on flames, and fights galore.
Unlike “Space Jam: A New Legacy,” the movie has fun with the computer world, and unlike “Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard,” it gives Reynolds his funniest [live action] role since “Deadpool 2.” In “Free Guy,” he’s able to enjoying the virtual world that seems like something out of “The Truman Show” or “Ready Player One.”
The bank teller’s routine consists of getting coffee, going to work, and bantering with his security guard friend Buddy (Lil Rel Howery), but when he steals an avatar’s glasses, which show him the virtual world he lives in, Guy decides to expand his horizons.
The story involves the genius of Free City, Antoine (Taika Waititi), who isn’t actually a genius, because all he did was steal the codes from game designers Keys (Joe Kerry) and Millie (Jodie Comer). The former works for him as a tech support guy, while the latter uses an avatar in the form of a British spy named Molotov Girl to take the genius down. She becomes the apple of Guy’s eye, who begins to kick some ass, humiliate the avatars, and level up. He even joins in on Molotov Girl’s missions, and has a romantic connection, something that Millie finds weird.
Could he be a troll or a glitch or an algorithm or or an A.I. whatever gamers would call him? Either way, Guy’s actions earn him attention from gamers worldwide and the nickname Blue Shirt Guy. And he becomes Free City’s only hope when it threatens to be deleted by the arrival of an upcoming game.
This article is written by a film critic, who don’t know all the rules of a video game, just select rules, and it’s also written by a film critic, who has a sense of humor, and is a fan of Ryan Reynolds (met him back in 2013). The movie was directed by Shawn Levy, who also made “Night at the Museum,” “Cheaper by the Dozen,” and “Date Night,” among others. In “Free Guy,” he’s able to toy with Reynolds without humiliating him or injuring him like Patrick Hughes did in “Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard.” Again, unlike that piece of crap, Reynolds (also a producer) is able to resume his mannerisms and rise to the occasion.
The supporting cast is just as entertaining as him. Comer in her Molotov Girl form is stylish and whip smart, and she isn’t the generic tough girl. She’s cuts back on that cliche. Howery is also hilarious when he uses his energy and potential as the security guard, who isn’t here to just provide one-liners, but also has a more human connection in him. Kerry, coming on the heels of “Spree,” is able to transcend from a TV actor (“Stranger Things”) to a movie actor. And Waititi has a goofy spark, not at the full throttle level of “Jojo Rabbit,” but more on a cartoon level. Much better than Don Cheadle in “Space Jam: A New Legacy.”
So far, “The Suicide Squad” is failing to outgross the original 2016 crapfest at the box office, probably because of it streaming on HBO Max or how dreary August usually is for movies. But even if “Free Guy” doesn’t break any records,” it still earn enough points and delivers the goods with the right codes.