‘Free Guy’: Worth the Price

“Free Guy” follows the evolution of Guy, an NPC in a violent FPS video game who begins to realize there might be more to life than just bank robberies and bubble gum ice cream.

Pro – Character select

“Free Guy” stars Ryan Reynolds, perhaps the most popular man in Hollywood right now. Somehow, Reynolds parlayed early comedy success (“Waiting…,” “Van Wilder”) turning only his humor and good looks into A-List casting, which crashed and burned spectacularly in 2011’s “Green Lantern.” In a feat that certainly feels like aggressive hard work, he has utilized both his comedy and looks (and guerilla marketing) to launch himself back up into Hollywood’s A-list.

“Free Guy” might be his coronation ceremony. His mere presence elevated the film and it’s premise from a hard pass in the vein of “Pixels” to can’t miss. He delivers the goods as Guy, a clueless NPC living the happy life of ignorant bliss before realizing he and his world can be much more. Reynolds is witty and charming and sure to please. He is aided by a great cast of supporting actors who really flesh out and breathe life into the story. Of particular note is “Thor: Ragnarök” director Taika Waititi as self-absorbed bad guy game producer Antwan.

Pro – Overclocked

If Reynolds presence is what gets the audience in the theater, they will be glad they did. “Free Guy” is much better than it has any right to be. Full of heart, the movie has fun action, fleshed out characters, and more Easter eggs than the Cadbury factory in February. Best of all, “Free Guy” boasts a story that makes a lot of sense. To be sure, it’s not Shakespeare, but it’s a clean, simple premise and it’s rewarding for the audience to watch. The film shifts between the real world and the digital world of Free City where Guy resides. Both worlds are compelling and exciting, and that’s a big deal.

Con – Dated

The one drawback to “Free Guy” is it is very much rooted in 2021 in two ways. First, this is not a film that will age well. It is a disposable snack, meant to be enjoyed and discarded. This is not uncommon for summer blockbusters, but the nature of the material means even a few years into the future this film simply won’t resonate with the experiences of youth like it does right now.

Second, while the story is good, much of the enjoyment will come to those that reside in, or at least have a cursory knowledge of, video game culture in the last five years. A viewer unfamiliar with FPS, micro transactions, skins, Twitch celebs, or that simply didn’t quite understand the opening sentence of this review is going to miss a lot of the subtle fun and themes of this film. The audience who will enjoy this film is limited and fleeting.

Ryan Reynolds has done it again. “Free Guy” lives up to what it is suppose to be and it is the best video game movie ever made. It’s not for everyone, but it’s likely you already figured out if it’s for you. If it is, jump in you racer and avoid the banana peels as you speed over the Fridley Palms Theaters to check it out!