"You'll end up routing for an NPC to do the impossible"
Free Guy is an interesting movie, as a premise it could have been very much hit or miss. Mixing elements of Romantic Comedy and Sci-Fi, drawing heavily from Grand Theft Auto, Fortnight and The Sims. There is a lot here to keep up with and a lot of elements that could go badly wrong.... Luckily Free Guy is an overwhelming positive, optimistic and most importantly funny story that stays with you long after your initial viewing.
Let's start at the begining, Guy is our main character living in Free City (A second life style online video game) who is your basic NPC (Non Player Character), someone destined to forever live a happy life in the back ground. Through a chance meeting with an in game avatar he falls in love, and starts to become more than just an NPC, more than just his programming, he becomes essentially the first AI to gain sentience. Luckily he's less Skynet and more bubblegum ice cream, which I feel is part of the reason that this film is so funny and watchable. It never takes itself too serious, if the same premise was pitched as a Sci-Fi blockbuster it would be laughable in the wrong way.
A lot of what makes Guy work as a character comes down to Ryan Reynolds and his enormous reserves of charisma and comic timing, there's definite hints of Deadpool in his performance but by this point one has to wonder if Deadpool is more Ryan Reynolds now rather than the other way round. The supporting cast are no slouches by any means with Joe Keery (Stranger Things) and Jodie Comer (Killing Eve) in the main supporting/co-leading roles.
Jodie is a particular highlight as Millie (also Molotov Girl her online alias... a more early 2000s online alias couldn't be found). Also Taika Waititi plays Antoine, the evil head of SOONAMI games, whilst he does this brilliantly, it does feel like a little bit of a caricature of your typical boss architype, however it's easily forgiven given the context of his douchbag-ness.
Another small thing which stuck out to me was the use of real life YouTubers and their "reactions" to the events of the story, I understand why this was done, but can't help think it was a tiny bit cringeworthy and will not age well in a time where YouTube popularity can be here today and gone tomorrow. The cameos from Channing Tatum and a certain Avenger were a highlight however and I could not go without mentioning them. There is also a blindingly obvious link that Dinsey were involved with the making of this film, I won't spoil anything but there are a couple of superb instances of this being used to great effect.
Let's talk music, there is no way you will leave a screening of this film without humming the annoyingly infectious "Fantasy" by Mariah Carey. It was used heavily in the marketing but it's inescapable. Whilst I personally have come to enjoy this song now, I can see it getting very old, very quickly for some.
In summary Free Guy is a fantastic experience that made me laugh throughout and I'd recommend it for anyone wanting to sit back and have a good time or any gaming fan that appreciates poking fun at the absurdity of video game movies. Lastly I feel that it's cracked the code when it comes to video game movies, how do you make a good one? Simple, base it on a game that only exists in that universe. In fairness we probably should of realised this when Tron was released.
You'll end up routing for an NPC to do the impossible, 4.5 out 5 stars in my opinion.