Try as I really wanted to like Free Guy, I simply couldn’t … because it is one very silly movie.
Two game developers invent … you guessed it … a video game, the backbone of which is stolen by their boss, Antwan (Taika Waititi), who exploits it and makes some serious coin from it.
The basis of the game is Groundhog Day, that is the same thing happening every day, with the same result.
We are in a place called Free City, where there are lots of explosions, gunfire and flames.
Hey, after all, it is a video game.
Then, one of the background characters, known as Guy (Ryan Reynolds) – a nice, sweet, innocent who works as a bank teller next to his best mate, security guard Buddy (Lil Rel Howery) – changes all that through artificial intelligence.
In short, Guy (who thinks that people who wear sunglasses are heroes) comes alive … in a fashion.
The driver of this is a young woman, Millie – aka Molotov Girl – (Jodie Comer), to whom he is attracted. She is a manifestation of one of the two game designers.
The male programmer Keys (Joe Keery) constructed Molotov Girl a certain way to reflect his true feelings for Millie.
So, in the film, this is art imitating life on the outside of the video game, the two threads of which formulate the plot.
And … of course, Millie and Keys are out to prove that Antwan stole their intellectual property.
For his part, Antoine has turned his attention to the next iteration of the game, which he expects will result in more riches.
Visually and musically, Free Guy is appealing, but beyond that it is not much chop.
We get video game elements liberally smattered throughout (tick) and an ear-pleasing beat (second tick).
Gamers playing and watching the game the world over we’ve seen many times before (I speak of these scenes in other movies) … and here it looked relatively clunky.
The plotting by Matt Lieberman (The Addams Family) and Zak Penn (Ready Player One), though, was all over the shop.
I felt the movie pulled in different directions and rarely, if ever, found solid footing.
It went from violent to laying on the schmaltz.
Ryan Reynolds does all he can to capture the nerd and bravado in his game character.
Jodie Comer readily straddles her dual roles as game heroine and designer wanting to right a wrong.
And this isn’t the first time we have witnessed Taika Waititi taking the Mickey out of his character.
Director Shawn Levy (Night at the Museum) had inferior material to work with … and it shows.