Free Guy is a 2021 American science fiction action comedy film directed by Shawn Levy from a screenplay by Matt Lieberman and Zak Penn, and a story by Lieberman. While in general, video game adaptations have failed miserably, Free Guy succeeds by being inspired by and referencing video game culture. Yes, Free Guy is able to engage despite the superficial trappings of its premise, due mainly to excellent writing, eye-catching special effects and Ryan Reynolds’ on-screen ‘everyman’ charisma.
Speaking of the premise –
Guy (Ryan Reynolds) is a bank teller who discovers that he is actually a non-player character in an open-world video game and becomes the hero of the story, trying to save his friends from deletion by the game’s creator. (Wikipedia)
Anyone who has ever played a video game will enjoy the realistic portrayal of the video gameplay expressed as a real-life virtual construct. Echoes abound in this respect of The Matrix, Wreck-It Ralph and Ready Player One, except that the protagonist is an artificial intelligence, an algorithm that exists and ultimately evolves in the Free City video game.
Superb character support is provided by Killing Eve’s Jodie Comer as Millie Rusk, Stranger Things’ Joe Keery as Keys (video game designers) and Taika Waititi as the deliciously evil Antwan (video game owner). Again, the connection and the engagement provided by the characters boils down to good writing by Liebermann and Penn. The humour is knowing, the pathos is heartfelt and the commentary is clever throughout.
Yes, of course, the plot does stretch the limits of the suspension of belief at times but the sheer fun injected into each and every story event, gives Free Guy the artistic license to get a pass for those odd lapses of logic. By the third act, the audience is firmly rooting for Guy (and Millie and Keys) and is easily swept away by the wave of emotion by the film’s denouement.
Free Guy is probably one of the most entertaining, feel good movies of 2021. Highly recommended.
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