There is a big difference between “good” and “great” movies. Often “good” movies are the entertaining popcorn flicks that tend to dominate at the box office. They can be funny, action-packed, maybe a bit lighthearted, but they never take any risks. These movies are people pleasers, have simple plots, fun action scenes, and overall create a plain yet pleasant experience.
The “great” movies, the best of the best in cinema almost always take risks. Whether it be with incredibly unique stories, intense character actors, or stunning visuals and cinematography (often, the “great” movies excel in all these areas) these “great” movies put themselves out there and in doing so, stretch the film industry in brand new directions.
By all accounts, Free Guy is just another “good” movie. It doesn’t take any risks, it just is a simple, down to earth fun time. However, while Free Guy doesn’t take any risks, while it doesn’t make audiences weep with emotional dialogue and while it certainly doesn’t stimulate audiences thinking with its simplistic plot, it excels at being what it is — a fun time at the movies.
Free Guy doesn’t need to be genre-defining and it doesn’t need to redefine the movie industry. At a time in history when people desperately need to sit down, watch a movie and forget about their problems, Ryan Reynold’s latest blockbuster succeeds at providing laughs, action, and heart.
You wouldn’t think as much from watching the trailers — “Free Guy” looks to be a very average — if even — movie experience. In reality, the film is a video game version of Truman Show with a few romantic comedy elements and just a few hints of They Live and Ready Player One (Ready Player One comparisons to this movie have been greatly exaggerated).
The plot follows Guy, an NPC (non-playable character) in a Grand Theft Auto-esque online multiplayer game called “Free City.” Unlike your typical NPC, however, Guy begins to become self-aware and, upon meeting Jodie Comer’s Millie Rusk (known as Molotov Girl within the world of Free City) falls in love.
From the get-go, Reynold’s inescapable charm has audiences rooting for Guy. The supporting cast, including Comer, Taika Waititi, Lil Rel Howry, and Joe Keery of Stranger Things fame, all give fun performances as well, keeping the audience engaged.
While simplistic, the story is perhaps one of the best portrayals of a video game. Sure, some of the rules of the game world don’t quite make sense but, overall, avid gamers are going to love the numerous inside references to gaming culture and RPG shooters that only they will understand. For those who aren’t cultured in the world of gaming, the movie is accessible enough to enjoy without that knowledge.
The story of the movie is surprisingly compelling and, in a move that surprised this writer, the story can be, at times, quite touching. There are moments that certainly pull at the audience’s heartstrings. Again, this is 100 percent thanks to the fact that Reynold’s performance forces audiences to care about his protagonist.
What could have been a very dumb plot is actually somewhat clever and the internal logic of the world actually makes sense. The most interesting example of this is how Reynold’s character gains self-awareness. While the filmmakers could have left this unexplained, they do a great job taking the hard route and actually making Guy’s evolution somewhat believable.
Overall, Free Guy shines because it knows exactly what it is — a fun popcorn flick. It doesn’t try to redefine the video game movie genre. It simply gives audiences some laughs, some action, and just a tinge of heart.
Sometimes audiences don’t want to go see an Oscar-nominated drama. Sometimes, they just want to have some fun. And that’s exactly what Free Guy is.