If you’ve ever played any kind of shoot ‘em up computer game I’m sure you’ve unloaded more than a few clips into an NPC, or non-player character.
They’re the ones who are either trying to kill you or are wondering around on a loop in the background. Either way, no-one is controlling them except some computer code.
This, is Guy, Ryan Reynolds (“6 Underground”, “Pokémon Detective Pikachu”), a bank teller who, along with his best friend Buddy, Lil Rel Howery (“Judas and the Black Messiah”, “Space Jam: A New Legacy”), is an NPC in Free City, getting a coffee, going to work, being robbed, same ol’, same ol’.
That is until one day Guy walks past Millie, Jodie Comer (“Killing Eve (TV)”, “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker”), or rather her avatar, Molotov Girl, and he instantly falls in love and begins doing things he’s not supposed to.
This isn’t that surprising as the roots of the Free City game are based on a game Millie and Keys, Joe Keery (“Stranger Things (TV)”, “Molly’s Game”), built that encourages AI to grow and think for itself.
Much to everyone’s surprise, that’s what Guy is doing and when he starts playing the game, not realising at this stage it is actually a game, he does so as a good guy, taking the internet by storm.
From here on in it’s basically a game of ‘find the proof’ as Millie, Guy and, eventually, Keys attempt to ‘find the proof’ that Antwan, Taika Waititi (“The Suicide Squad”, “Jojo Rabbit”), who is the games creator, actually stole their code.
Matt Lieberman (“The Christmas Chronicles”, “The Addams Family”) and Zak Penn (“Ready Player One”, “Alphas (TV)”) are the writers of Free Guy with Shawn Levy (“Stranger Things (TV)”, “The Internship”) behind the camera.
Lieberman and Penn have created a truly unique and wonderful world and filling it with Ryan Reynolds, twice over near the end, is absolutely perfect.
Both Comer and Keery are also brilliant, Keery believable as the coding genius and Comer his relentless business partner who knows that their code is in Free City, somewhere.
Oddly, given the nature of the movie, it’s Waititi’s portrayal of Antwan that feels out of place. He plays the character, well, as he is really; a late 40’s man pretending to be a young, what-he-thinks-is-cool owner of a computer game company.
It’s OTT for the movie and stands out like a sore thumb, which is a shame. As everything else about Free Guy is feel good and will leave you with a smile on your face. It’s fun, as cinema should be.
13th August 2021
THE QUICK SELL
Ryan Reynolds is Guy, a bank teller who discovers that he's actually an NPC inside a brutal, open world video game.