“Free Guy” is a delightful, heartwarming, and at times hilarious story about one man’s journey to find his place in the world.
The Free Guy is a movie that features a family of four who get stuck in an amusement park during the summer. It has been rated PG by the MPAA, and was released on July 3rd, 2018.
Free Guy is surprisingly enjoyable for a film that doesn’t include a single original concept. The term “good” isn’t quite accurate. Shawn Levy’s wildly unoriginal action comedy mashes together ideas from The LEGO Movie, The Truman Show, They Live!, The Matrix, Wreck-It Ralph, Ready Player One, and a host of other films to produce a picture that goes down rather smoothly but suffers from a disturbing lack of focus. However, the picture, like — or maybe because of — its star, Ryan Reynolds, seems to be conscious of its limits on occasion. At its finest, its skepticism is transformed into a strength.
Reynolds portrays Guy, a blue-shirted bank teller who is unaware that he is an NPC (non-playable character) in the very popular video game Free City. When the bank where he works is routinely robbed, his main goal is to flee. Buddy, played by Lil Rel Howery, is his closest buddy and a security guard who performs the same thing every day while laying face-down on the bank floor and casually talking.) Instead of following orders, Guy grabs one of the thieves’ dark glasses and discovers that it unlocks a world of unique abilities, routes, and other video-game gizmos. They give him the ability to travel through and change his world in unforeseen ways. To put it another way, he is starting to break free from his brainwashing.
Players in the real world begin to notice Guy and think that he is either another player impersonating an NPC or that he is being manipulated by a hacker. Real-life programmers Keys (Joe Keery) and Millie (Jodie Comer) begin to wonder whether Guy is the artificially intelligent character they’ve always imagined: a computer-generated figure who can grow and learn and become so truly self-aware that he can chart his own path.
Millie, who roams Free City as Molotov Girl, a Trinity-like avatar, develops a love connection with Guy, while secretly battling irritating tech-bro Antwan (Taika Waititi), the CEO of the company that distributes Free City, who may have stolen the code for a much more creative but weaker platform.
There’s an idea here about how a person may break free from different societal constraints that seem to predetermine one’s destiny – race, class, gender, and so on. When other players admire Guy’s “skin” and question as to where he got it, Guy is both perplexed and flattered. Despite the fact that Ryan Reynolds – of all people – seems to be making a joke, Hollywood has been frantically trying to make him into a movie star for the better part of a decade, he has come to represent this coming of age.
Reynolds, on the other hand, is an excellent choice for the part. The veneer of insincerity that permeated every line of word, gesture, and look held him back in his early years, when he appeared to hop from one underperforming vehicle to the next. His performances were icy, bordering on psychotic. (This is largely why he was a fantastic Van Wilder but a complete failure as a Green Lantern.) It’s also why films like Mississippi Grind and the Deadpool movie benefitted greatly from his presence, as they masterfully played on his existential disingenuousness. He shines at portraying a character composed completely of ones and zeros; rather than being emotional, his awakening is pragmatic and technical. Guy’s shallowness is tolerable since he isn’t a real person.
Reynolds’ robotic charm gives the film a laugh factor that makes it seem smarter than it is. Even later in the picture, when it begins openly associating with Disney or Fox characters, one might be excused for believing it’s satirizing, as opposed to, say, Space Jam 2’s genuine pandering. Meanwhile, Millie and Keys’ love story is handled so poorly that you may assume the film is ridiculing Hollywood’s typical romantic subplots for a brief minute. That’s when you realize you’ve been too generous with Free Guy. The film’s lackluster quality isn’t a “comment” on anything; it just exists.
While Reynolds deserves credit for making this amusing, watching a nonperson for more than a few hours becomes tiresome. There are shards of an interesting narrative about Guy’s awakening in Free Guy, which enables him to inspire people in the real world as well as the other NPCs in Free City to understand that life is more than simply following other people’s ideas. Any important ideas, however, are suffocated by filmmaker Levy’s near-pathological lack of visual creativity. How can a film about uncovering latent talents and the moveable boundaries of one’s reality be so boring and unattractive from a cinematic standpoint?
Levy’s primary philosophy seems to be to never take any aesthetic risks. Free Guy, on the other hand, is intended to be a film about taking risks. What’s the purpose of breaking the fourth wall if there’s nothing on the other side?
SCORE: 8 OUT OF 10
Free Guy is a movie that is about finding yourself and your true self. It’s an entertaining rollercoaster of unabashed sweetness and fun. Reference: watch free guy online free streaming.
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