While the combination of the real world and video games uniting as one on the silver screen has been a trendy narrative in the last few years, there haven’t been too many that level up the fun quite like what we see in “Free Guy.”
The film takes us inside the world of “Free City,” similar to “Grand Theft Auto,” which is an open-world game of crime, violence and millions of gamers around the world doing pretty much whatever they want.
Like any game, the main characters are daring and flashy, unlike Guy (Ryan Reynolds) — a bank teller who wears the same shirt, tie and khakis every single day. In fact, the bank he works at gets robbed every day, and he drops to the ground with a smile on his face, like clockwork.
Guy’s world gets flipped upside down one day when he runs into Molotov Girl (Jodie Comer), a kick-butt action heroine with quick wit and sharpshooter accuracy. For reasons he cannot explain, Guy begins to feel something he never felt before: love.
It seems Guy’s actions to deviate off the beaten path have created unforeseen consequences for “Free City.” A talented young programmer by the name of Keys (Joe Keery) actually created the framework of “Free City” before it was stolen by his jerk of a boss, Antwan (Taika Waititi). Now, Keys must figure out how and why Guy, a background character, is punching bank robbers in the face and falling in love.
And Keys isn’t alone. Millie (also played by Comer), co-creator of the original “Free City” with Keys, has a pending lawsuit out for Antwan for stealing their code. Keys and Millie must work together in the real world, and with Guy in the virtual world, to prove Antwan is a fraud. All the while, Guy must go on a journey of his own to figure out what his purpose is, and why he’s the only NPC to question his subdued life.
It’s no secret that video games are getting more realistic by the year, but it’s remarkable just how real Guy appears. He’s that happy-go-lucky friend with limited knowledge of the world outside his own, but his positive attitude and outlook on life make him someone you want to be around.
Due credit goes to the charming and likable Reynolds for reeling us in to his character early and never letting up. Reynolds is the star that will bring in the box office numbers, and he lives up to the billing, but his chemistry with Jodie Comer is why the film succeeds as much as it does.
“Free Guy” is the rare film that has it all: comedy, action and mystery. The laughs are constant (the subtle moments only gamers will get are the best), the action is both adventurous and explosive at times and we never quite understand the depths of Guy until the end credits roll.
There are some messages here about sticking it to greedy corporations, and exploring the profound reaches of artificial intelligence, but what the film’s really trying to get at here is to get all of us out of our own simulation.
“Free Guy” is the surprise hit of the summer. It’ll make you laugh, it’ll move you in ways you won’t expect and it’ll make you think about your own life even hours after the film is over. It doesn’t get much more free than that.