Free Guy

⭐⭐⭐½ based on 1 review.

tl;dr: Much more fun than it needs to be, with plenty of charm, a great cast, and far more gamer jokes than I'd expected.


Spoilers Ahead: My reviews are not spoiler-free. You have been warned.

It's a Ryan Reynolds film with Taika Waititi, so I had an inclination that I was going to enjoy Free Guy. Plus, the whole sentient NPC is a much more novel story to tell than most film x videogame crossovers try. Still, I was surprised at how much fun I ended up having. There are some slightly odd moments, particularly with the camera work which can be a little overly fond of slow-motion close-ups of Reynolds pulling a ridiculous grin, but overall it's a tight story that uses the premise well. The plot is as deep as it needs to be and it takes a deeper dive than I was expecting on elements like the glorification of violence on Western culture, the soullessness of VC-funded creativity, the evils of capitalism, and the ethical quandaries over programming sentience, considering that all programs inherently capture the biases of their developers. None of these subjects are explored in a particularly novel or exhaustive way, but they're all relevant and it's nice to see them come up at all.

At the same time, the movie is packed with gamer culture references. From "players" in the game teabagging fallen opponents, to the way skins are portrayed, to just the subtle language use, it's clear that the people behind the film know what they're talking about. I also thought it was a neat touch that, whenever you're IRL, the game on people's screens isn't just the movie. It's an actual video game, far from photo-real (though clearly current-gen), which is just a really nice touch.

And that's the thing, the film is full of nice touches. Whether it's Channing Tatum constantly switching between Fortnite-style dance routines or the way that guns just materialise when players reach behind their head, it's just a lot of fun. It made me laugh several times, the core cast are all great, and the ending may be a little on-the-nose saccharine, but it does tie things together nicely. It won't be winning any awards, but for what it is, it's pretty great.

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