One glance at FREE GUY, the newest big budget offering from Hollywood’s favorite action-star/comedy master Ryan Reynolds, will cause most to approach with valid skepticism. The plot seems like a cheap knockoff of films like Ready Player One or even The Matrix, but made in a crude fashion to make more money at the box office. The actual movie, however, could not be further from the worst estimates. Not only is FREE GUY constantly hilarious due to Reynolds and an inventive screenplay, and not only is this possibly the feel-good event of the summer, but it also has a considerable amount of thought put into the meaning of its premise and places a mirror in front of modern-day video game culture.
To put it simply, perhaps the main reason this movie comes together so well is because of Ryan Reynolds’ constant charisma and hilarity. Most of his dialogue is clearly either written by him or created by him on the spot (I have no idea how he hasn’t received a screenwriting credit for this and the Deadpool movies), and the film is that much better as a whole because of it. He also interacts with the other actors in the film very well, including Jodie Comer and Joe Keery, two underrated actors who prove here that they aren’t just one-time stars from their respective television shows (Killing Eve and Stranger Things). The ensemble combines to create the most consistently funny movie of 2021 so far.
However, this movie isn’t just hilarity and crazy antics, although it could easily get by on those aspects alone. FREE GUY has tons of heart and authenticity despite its virtual reality-based plot, and is about very human emotions such as disillusionment, the feeling of being trapped, and, of course, love. There are times where the heartwarming aspects of this film resemble a charming romantic comedy and others where it gets so existential that it almost feels like The Truman Show. It never dives quite as deep as the latter film, but the fact that it even has the guts to include these themes made this easygoing big-budget movie a far better watch for me. Sure, the last thirty minutes are very cheesy and contain a lot of clichés, but the buildup is so solid that it earns some dumb rom-com moments near the end.
FREE GUY is worth going to see because it is one of the few quality films right now that increases one’s faith in human nature. Lately I feel as though I have lost my faith in humanity with all that is happening in the world, so it is refreshing to get a movie that feels confident in the human experience. Maybe I’m looking too deep into the message of FREE GUY and maybe it was conceived just so Ryan Reynolds could screw around for two hours, but either way the price of admission is well worth it for an amazing time at the theater.