“Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.” – Albert Einstein
There’s a lot going on these days to justify people’s pessimism but there’s also a ton to be grateful for; small, some might say insignificant things but hey, we all have to get through the day somehow. In the last five years or so we have been experiencing simultaneously the Keanussance (revival of Keanu Reeves) and Reynoldssance (work in progress), the slow realization that Ryan Reynolds is just pure awesome. I’ve been a fan of his for a long time, I’m glad everyone could finally catch up. Welcome. From the instant classic Deadpool (1&2), The Hitman’s Bodyguard franchise, and now Free Guy, Reynolds is becoming the household name he should have been years ago. Better late than never I suppose.
I include Free Guy in that list because I predict it will be a huge success. It’s too good to be anything else. That haters, the small few that exist, will say Reynolds is a one trick pony and while that isn’t completely untrue they say it as if it’s a bad thing. If being so likable you can take any role and I’d watch it is one trick then that is one hell of a trick if you ask me. Anyway, I should probably talk about the movie now and not just gush about the man all day. A difficult task but I think I’m up to it.
Free Guy imagines a world where GTA is a basic reality. Now pretend you live in this world as a no name, insignificant person just going about your day to day. Free Guy simply wonders what that would look like. It also asks what it might look like if you were to break that mold and go rogue.
There’s so much about this premise that could have simply gone the way of predictable and throwaway. Luckily someone, maybe Reynolds himself(?), actually cared about this project and inserted copious amounts of clever writing that stems into the comedy side as well as the action and genuine heart it wears on its sleeve. The characters, the very ones that see themselves as trivial become all important not just to their own world but to the structure of the film. They are not just likable but human, despite them not actually being real. That old chestnut. I think one of its strongest attributes is not allowing the comedy and action to overwhelm the characters who bring the heart and soul into a story that may have been funny without them, it would have never been memorable or worth the time beyond its first viewing. Free Guy is the kind of movie that understands its audience. It’s made for anyone to have fun watching it but to truly embrace all that it has to offer it’s important to be familiar with the world of video games and just how wild west it has become. If you don’t know what Grand Theft Auto is or Saints Row or anything similar you can’t appreciate the nuance of every carefully placed joke that all culminates into one of the funniest movies of the year. Imagine if Ready Player One had a more comedic side and Ryan Reynolds played Wade Watts.
Free Guy is a great example of taking what could be nothing more than a forgettable money grab and fine tuning it into something more. It’s far more clever than it has any right to, it’s hilariously ingenious in its execution and as I’ve said, its characters genuinely matter. It all comes together at the right moments allowing for originality as well as moments that pay homage to other projects we know and love. This includes easter egg objects and wholly unexpected cameos that will have audiences cackling and cheering.
As funny as Reynolds is, and he is, he’s not the only comedy player bringing the laughter. Taika Waititi conjures his beloved manic hilarity to not only be maniacally evil but absurdly hysterical too. Lil Rel Howery is a sweetly funny man whose comedic prowess is reason all its own to see this movie. He is a real treat playing off of Reynolds who play best friends and with their brilliant delivery and obvious chemistry, I believed every minute of their friendship. A welcome surprise is the complex and equally humorous Jodie Comer as Millie aka Molotov Girl. What could have been a flat love interest is a layered character that is not only funny but interesting. Her quest, the ultimate goal of her character and eventually Reynolds’ as well, is a worthwhile journey.
I’m so pleased this wasn’t a year plus of waiting only to find nothing more than a piece of garbage insult to our intelligence standing in its place. Free Guy is so much fun and manages the ingenuity and cleverness that Deadpool creates but with a more family friendly rating. I almost forgot to mention it does something so few movies even bother to attempt anymore. From beginning to end Free Guy is a fully contained story worried only about the conflicts in front of it rather than what could be should a sequel be greenlit. It stands on its own without any concern for setting up a franchise. A franchise in this world would be a lot of fun but to contain the entirety of its story in one film is commendable and all too rare these days. There’s not much else I can say really. If you had any interest in seeing this movie I would absolutely say it earns the right to entertain you for a couple of hours. Free Guy is one of the best surprises of 2021. Finally a surprise that doesn’t have the word COVID in front of it.
Rated PG-13 For: strong fantasy violence throughout, language and crude/suggestive references
Runtime: 115 minutes
After Credits Scene: No
Genre: Action, Comedy, Sci-Fi
Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Jodie Comer, Lil Rel Howery, Joe Keery, Taika Waititi
Directed By: Shawn Levy
Out of 10 Nerdskulls
Story: 9/ Acting: 8.5/ Directing: 8/ Visuals: 9.5
OVERALL: 9.5 Nerdskulls
Buy to Own: Yes.
Check out the trailer below:
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