Friday, August 13, 2021

Free Guy - Movie Review

The Movie: Free Guy

The Director: Shawn Levy

The Cast: Ryan Reynolds, Jodie Comer, Lil Rel Howery, Joe Keery, Utkarsh Ambudkar, Taika Waititi

The Story: A bank teller discovers that he's actually an NPC inside a brutal, open world video game.

The Review:
This is one of those movies that was delayed after the pandemic shut everything down and, after finally getting to watch it, I feel it was definitely worth the wait. My primary concern about the movie going in was that I thought Ryan Reynolds would be way too over the top a he can be sometimes so I was very relieved to see him maintain a perfectly balanced performance that emphasized both his endless supply of humor and witty punchlines and his ability to be about as charming as a person could possibly be. It feels strange to say that his character Guy is one of the most lovable, relatable, and engaging personalities you will find on a movie screen and especially when you factor in the fact that he is a non player character inside a video game.

Reynolds also finds himself surrounded by a more than capable cast including Taika Waititi, Channing Tatum, Joe Keery, Utkarsh Ambudkar, Lil Rel Howery, and Jodie Comer who has a dual role as a real life character and her own gamer avatar in the movie's virtual world. Waititi is pretty fantastic is a crazed billionaire CEO and he takes advantage of every moment to make his presence known which is impressive considering how over the top and energetic the whole movie is. Lil Rel Howery has carved out a niche for himself as the best friend in various movies and he handles the role in prime comedic fashion in this movie. He's also responsible for one of the more heartfelt scenes in the movie as Guy relies on him for support.

One thing I like in particular about this movie is how the creators tackle the issue of toxic masculinity that has run rampant through the game industry and the gaming community pretty much ever since it's inception. The gatekeeping and sexism are front and center although not in a heavy handed way, I mean this is ultimately a goofy comedy but it's nice to see some of these things addressed in a video game movie. There's also some great messaging about living a fully expressed life versus falling into the traps of conformity and cultural expectation which plays out as Reynolds' character, who is a non player character, interacts with other NPC's in the game.

The action in the movie is pretty fantastic with lots of high flying stunts, dynamic fight scenes, and chase scenes, all accentuated and enhanced by some great CGI and effects work. Sometimes CGI can be excessive and take you out of a reality space but since this movie is mostly set inside of a video game, it all works beautifully. There are also tons and tons of Easter eggs to watch for and some really cool surprises that I'm not even going to hint at because they're so good and a lot of them got really big crowd reactions in the theater. I've tried to come up with a few things to critique but honestly, there's really nothing that's worth noting so I'm not even going to bother.

The Verdict:
Free Guy is a surprisingly fun and endlessly entertaining movie that may not be perfect but it really doesn't need to be because it's just so good. Ryan Reynolds proves once again he can headline a blockbuster franchise with gigantic piles of wit and charm.

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