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FREE GUY by Victoria Alexander

Updated: Aug 12, 2021

Dazzling fun with Reynolds playing a very likable character. An A-list actor’s cameo is perfect and Waititi will make everyone learn how to pronounce his professionally chosen name.

Ryan Reynolds hasn’t fallen for the easy acting-free movie or has yet to take a location vacation, so I knew FREE GUY would deliver – even with the past report of how hard Reynolds is to work with. Yet, if there is a great script around, he is probably on the very short list to see it first.

Tim Miller, the director of the 2016 behemoth DEADPOOL, claimed that Reynolds was impossible to work with. DEADPOOL went on to become the highest-grossing R-rated movie of all time (before it was dethroned). It should be noted that Miller exited DEADPOOL 2 and signed on to direct TERMINATOR: DARK FATE and encountered the same issue of creative control, this time with the film’s producer, James Cameron. Miller made it clear he wouldn’t work again with Reynolds and Cameron.

I have never played a video game so it took some time to dope out exactly what FREE GUY was about. Without a narrator explaining what is happening, the filmmakers take you along and make the “virgins” figure it out.

Gamers probably caught on far faster and know more of the references and buried Easter Eggs. It took me a while to understand that Guy (Ryan Reynolds) is a background player, just like when you watch a movie and anonymous people cross a street, eat lunch or pass by the leading man. They are not there to engage your interest. They are filling out the background. Sometimes they are cardboard cutouts or virtual people.

Highly paid stars eventually disappoint their audiences. What becomes more important than a good film is the personal lifestyle that they must maintain. Anna Nicole Smith testified in court why she needed to keep a $487.5 million inheritance because, as she said, “It’s terrible the things I have to do to be me. I am serious. I pay a lot of money to be me.”

Quentin Tarantino plans to stop making films after completing his tenth. Tarantino said that studying great directors he found that eventually they made a series of lousy films. Movie star paychecks are sometimes revealed as a way of embarrassing an actor, such as when Disney outed Scarlett Johansson’s $20 million for BLACK WIDOW. For many actors the over-arching reason for making a film is they are paid his/her “quote.” Think about the many films of Robert De Niro made without Martin Scorsese or Bruce Willis’ career.

Ryan Reynolds is on a well earned roll…so far.

I still don’t know exactly what “Open World” means but NPC is a non-player character with the responsibility of getting in the way of the lead players and is killed in the game without having a storyline. NPC’s are decorative “place-holders” who keep showing up without any dimensional features. They are dispensable. A gamer has designed their own avatar, but not the crowd of figures populating the sets.

Reynolds is so damn likable as a NPC without a wink to the audience. Guy wakes up every morning and goes to his bank teller job. The player scenario is that there is a bank robbery every day. One day Guy and his security guard buddy, Buddy (Lil Rel Howery), also a NPC, are on the floor in the middle of the bank heist. Guy happens to look up and sees Molotovgirl (Jodie Comer), a highly individualistic character in a biker chic black leather and sunglasses.

Guided by her gamer, there are many things she can do. Will she battle it out with the bank robbers? Guy starts to follow her and intrudes in her scenario. Molotovgirl is shocked that Guy has left his NCP role and is now directed by a mysterious non-paying gamer.Has someone corrupted the programming by introducing a random element?

Guy is told by Molotovgirl that he is a NCP in a game called Free City. “Soonami” is the company that owns the rights to the game and it is run by the flamboyant, narcissistic, maniacal Antwan (Taika Waititi). The prototype game was co-created by a Soonami employee, Keys (Joe Kerry) and his programming partner Millie. Thorough unfair manipulation, Antwan has taken over the game and is preparing for Free City 2. Keys and Millie have secretly created avatars to play the game. Molotovgirl is Millie’s avatar. With Antwan planning to erase Free City, Guy and everyone in the city will disappear.

Screenwriters Zak Pen and Matt Lieberman deliver a clever script and a cameo by an A-list star steals the movie. Director Shawn Levy handles the fast-moving action and the superb, exciting special effects. There are wonderful shocking moments. And there is not a cheap, lazy predictable ending.

Comer, leaping from her star-making series KILLING EVE, gives Molotovgirl enough sex and thrills to mount her own movie. I must also mention how the screenwriters, the director and especially Reynolds allowed Waititi free range to develop a wild, delicious character.

Waititi, who appears in THE SUICIDE SQUAD and next year’s THOR: LOVE AND THUNDER has made Twitterverse mania with his gossipy sex life. The photograph of a three-way kiss between singer Rita Ora, Waititi and actress Jessa Thompson led to Marvel bosses reportedly reprimanding the filmmaker for the pictures.

The best thing to do to appease Marvel is for rumored girlfriend Ora be established as his significant partner and Waititi can continue enjoying his newfound public persona focusing on his sexual charisma.

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