Free Guy: The Ryan Reynolds Movie You’ve Never Heard of

I’m not sure if it’s because of covid-19 or because I don’t have classic cable tv anymore, but I’ve never heard of Free Guy. Lately, I get my “new movie” news from the internet as I’m scrolling through my feed, but this one never popped up, which is weird because… it’s Ryan Reynolds, and everyone loves him. This movie should have crossed my path at least once. While my husband and I were flipping through movies on our streaming services one night, we landed here. I had no idea what it was about, only that it has Ryan Reynolds as Guy. I love Ryan Reynolds and his movies. He’s funny, charming, and down-to-earth and usually brings some unique flair to the characters he portrays. However, this one didn’t stick the landing for me.

For those who haven’t seen the movie yet, Free Guy is about a sentient NPC (non-playable character) in a video game called Free City named Guy. The city is inhabited by real-world players (identified by wearing sunglasses) and NPCs. The game’s concept is similar to Grand Theft Auto, where real-world characters wrack havoc in Free City to level up. One day, Guy meets Millie, a real-world person. She informs him about why she’s there; she’s looking to prove that Soonami Studio stole her and another person’s (Key) programming to create Free City. Millie doesn’t initially recognize that Guy is an NPC created from her code at first, and so tells him that he needs to level up for her to interact with him. So Guy, being the painfully obvious lovelorn guy he is, goes to level up by doing the “right thing,” stopping the “sunglasses” from their various chicanery.

People in real life start to love Guy because he unwittingly bends the rules. This, in turn, causes the villain Antwan (owner of Soonami Studio) to love him since it’s creating buzz for the game and soon-to-be-released sequel, Free City 2, which backfires. Guy and Millie meet back up after he’s leveled up, and they go on a heist of sorts to find proof of the stolen programming while Guy and Millie develop feelings. The fun part is that Guy is based on Keys’ real feelings for Millie because surprise, surprise, Keys likes Millie. Guy likes what Millie does, such as “classic” pop songs and bubblegum ice cream. It’s supposed to be a unique thing, except I select “classic pop” and bubble gum ice cream too, and I’m sure others do as well.

Wrapping this up, Millie and Keys learn Guy is their AI program, proving that Soonami stole their code. They can find the actual evidence of the world they’d built before, just covered up and locked behind a non-explorable part on the beach. They get their program back, and Keys gets the girl. Yay.

The premise seemed interesting enough, though cliche. It was hard to tell what genre the movie fell into because it didn’t do well. It wasn’t quite funny or dramatic. It had elements of romance and action, but everything was stagnant and stale for the most part. I love all of these genres, but Free guy was done too “by the books.” It didn’t shake anything up or do anything different.

The acting was stiff too. As I mentioned previously, Ryan Reynolds is funny and charming and brings a refreshing portrayal of his characters. Here I didn’t get that. I know Reynold was supposed to be playing an oblivious person who is content with life in all its weird glory. Still, it seemed like he took it too far and made Guy appear lifeless. If Guy had gained more personality as he gained more sentience, it would have made him a more interesting character.

I was bored watching Keys as well. It had nothing to do with his actor, Joe Keery at all. I think he played Keys well. But key’s character was more of a “woe is me, I have to accept things as they are and not fight for what’s right.” Blah. Millie, though, was interested in a small capacity. She had an exciting motive, “cool girl” vibe, and kick-ass attitude. I didn’t love that She got with Keys at the end just because it seemed to diminish her character in my eyes. Her feelings, if you can even call them that, we’re out of the blue for Keys. I didn’t get the sense that she had hidden attraction at all, especially since during the film, in an interview, she stated very quickly that they were “just friends.” I think she would have maintained more of her agency and interest if she’d not been an object for romance. You can be coworkers with someone and not develop feelings.

Overall, I give this movie a 6/10. It was something to kill time, but I won’t watch it again.

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