FREE GUY Review: Ryan Reynolds' Chaotic Sci-Fi Comedy Is Fun, Silly And Frequently Hilarious
Shawn Levy's (Real Steel, Stranger Things) video game comedy Free Guy hits theatres next week, and we were pleasantly surprised by how much fun we had with Ryan Reynolds' latest. Check out our review.
Admittedly, we weren't expecting very much from Free Guy. The headache-inducing trailers for Disney/20th Century Studios' movie didn't exactly inspire confidence, and there were concerns that we might have another Pixels on our hands.
Thankfully, Shawn Levy's charming, sharp sci-fi comedy proved to be a very pleasant surprise.
Ryan Reynolds plays an NPC ("non-playable character") named Guy, who works as a bank teller in a mega-popular open-world video game called Free City. Guy is content to play his part while the "sunglasses people" (the players) go Grand Theft Auto all around him, until a chance encounter with Molotov Girl (Jodie Comer) awakens a longing to break free from his mundane existence and reach his full potential.
The object of his affections is really a programme developer named Millie, who, along with Keys (Joe Keery), came up with the original concept of Free City before it was corrupted by the megalomaniacal Antwan (Taika Waititi). Millie is searching for a piece of code within the game that will prove Antwan stole their idea, and the infatuated Guy - still completely unaware that he's not a "real person" - is eager to help. But first, he'll need to level-up.
Much like the recent Space Jam: A New Legacy, Free Guy throws a lot of stuff at the wall, but unlike Warner Bros.' soulless slog, most of it actually sticks. The video game setting allows for all manner of carnage to unfold on-screen, though one can't help but feel that the PG-13 rating did somewhat prevent Levy and writers Matt Lieberman and Zak Penn from taking full advantage of the concept.
Still, the movie showcases plenty of exciting and wildly inventive sequences, and features more than a few surprises. You may have heard that Free Guy includes cameos from certain actors/characters from some well-known franchises, but just in case, we won't be spoiling them here (one, in particular, results in arguably the funniest scene in the film).
While not every gag hits the mark (more on that later), Free Guy is mostly very funny and engaging, which is what really sets it apart from so many similarly chaotic action "comedies" out there. Reynolds has proven to be a charismatic leading man many times over, but here he tones down the sarcasm/cynicism to make the blissfully naive Guy a genuinely endearing creation. Comer is also on top form in what is essentially a dual role, and there's fine support from Stranger Things alum Keery and Lil Rel Howery as Guy's best pal, Buddy.
Unfortunately, Taika Waititi's villain proves to be the weak link. The Thor: Ragnarok actor usually elevates any project he's involved in, but his Kiwi "douche-bro" shtick immediately feels forced here, and his unfunny, groan-inducing dialogue means any scene Antwan appears in is more irritating than entertaining.
The movie also begins to drag ever so slightly around the 80-minute mark, but just as you start to think it might be outstaying its welcome, it slams on the accelerator for an absolute banger of a finale that should leave big sloppy grins on all but the most joyless of faces.
Free Guy doesn't set out to reinvent the wheel, but what it does, it does very well indeed. Not everything works, but plenty of laugh-out-loud moments, terrific FX and compelling leads should ensure a great time at the cinema - just try not to ruin any of the surprises for yourself beforehand!