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Free Guy 2021 Movie Review

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Hollywood has a long history of struggling with video game adaptations; adaptations of popular IP have consistently failed to connect with reviewers and casual moviegoers. As well as at the box office, with a few notable exceptions.

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Free Guy: Plot

Free Guy is a unique video game film. Rather of adapting an existing game, Matt Lieberman’s (Scoob!, The Christmas Chronicles) and Zak Penn’s (Ready Player One) storyline follows a non-player character – NPC – in a hypothetical open-world shooter called Free City. Shawn Levy (Night at the Museum) then brings the world of Free City to life as a bizarre reflection of our own, but one that is no less human.

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Free Guy is hysterically funny, endearingly adorable, and unexpectedly touching, with Ryan Reynolds combining action and comedy brilliantly.

Free Guy is set in the setting of Free City and follows an NPC named Guy (Reynolds) as he works at a bank alongside his best friend Buddy (Lil Rel Howery). However, when he encounters Millie (Jodie Comer), he breaks out of his programmed loop and acquires a pair of sunglasses that distinguishes players from NPCs.

When Millie explains to Person that he needs to level up, which players can do by committing crimes, Guy takes a different path, leveling up by being the nice guy. Outside of the game, Guy becomes a global sensation, and Millie discovers he may be able to assist her in her case against Soonami, the publisher of Free City, and Antwan, the owner (Taika Waititi).

She believes Antwan stole the game she worked on with her best friend Keys (Joe Keery), who, rather than assisting her, prefers to work at Soonami with his pal Mouser (Utkarsh Ambudkar). As a result, Millie enlists Guy’s assistance in proving her case and reclaiming Free City before Antwan destroys the evidence.

Free Guy: Review

Rather than adopting a specific video game, Free Guy creates an entirely new story that happens to be set in the world of video games. This implies that Lieberman and Penn’s script was not constrained by the constraints of an established property, allowing them to tell any story they pleased.

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Perhaps surprisingly, they chose to craft a story about love and free choice that effortlessly integrates with the Free Guy video game environment. While the Free City game and Levy’s presentation of its mechanics are fanciful, it is the tale at the heart of Free Guy that grounds it, as its protagonists deal with very real questions about life and love.

The film hits the ideal mix between humorous, enjoyable action-comedy and more serious, genuine moments of development and learning, making Free Guy an all-around enjoyable experience.

At the center of that experience is Reynolds, who portrays Guy with a combination of charisma and the actor’s trademark wide-eyed, verging on naive optimism.

Reynolds has a history of blending action and comedy in his previous appearances (Deadpool, The Hitman’s Bodyguard, and 6 Underground, to name a few), albeit many of those characters can feel like carbon copies of one another.

Guy possesses some of it, but it works within the context of the film, as Reynolds’ innate charm complements the screenplay and character. Additionally, Reynolds benefits from a stellar cast that includes Comer as the tenacious Millie and Waititi as the delectably evil Antwan.

Comer is a fantastic actress who uses her abilities to give Millie and her game character a lot of depth, while Waititi is a joy to watch on film as the quirky gaming mogul – he’s the type of villain viewers love to despise. They are aided and abetted by the supporting ensemble of Keery, Ambudkar, and Howery, who all perform their characters with an equal measure of levity and affection. The entire cast contributes to Free Guy’s depth, emotion, and humor.

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Where Free Guy falters slightly is when it attempts to convey the bigger world and Guy’s impact outside of Free City and Soonami, which the film accomplishes by showing popular gaming streamers and various unknown individuals commenting on or monitoring the scenario.

Though these parts are intended to appear authentic, all of these reactions feel uncomfortably staged and serve more to pull viewers away from the film than to better immerse them in the world of Free Guy.

They’re required for the story’s climax final act, but the introduction of the streamers, in particular, feels more like gaming fan service and is consequently clumsy.

On the other hand, Free Guy features a number of cameos by Hollywood celebrities that range from virtually imperceptible to utterly surprising (in the nicest possible way), and these are significantly more enjoyable.

While some of the film’s references to video game culture aren’t entirely seamless, especially for those outside the real-world community, the film does portray the industry in a realistic light – even offering a glimpse of its darkness.

Summary

Finally, while Free Guy is the most innovative, sincere, and possibly the best video game film to date, the film is fresh and unique enough for everybody to appreciate. Viewers do not need to be experts in video games or the community to appreciate the story Levy, Lieberman, Penn, and Reynolds are telling, as it is universal and touches on universal themes.

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As such, Free Guy is worth watching for anyone intrigued by the premise, which the film makes effective use of, or anyone looking for an entertaining action-comedy to enjoy with their summer popcorn. With its creative plot, true heart, outrageously entertaining humor, and thrilling action, Free Guy is everything a summer blockbuster should be.

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