By Liz Lopez

Rating: B+

In “Free Guy”, Ryan Reynolds’ character is a bank teller named Guy who lives in a world that doesn’t change day to day and that is because his world isn’t real. Guy is a video game character, but a non-playable one (known as an NPC, or “non-playable character”), which means he just lives in the background that can be shot at or run over by any number of players. Knowledge of video games is not essential to enjoy the film directed by Shawn Levy (“Night at the Museum”) and the great story written by Zak Penn (“Ready Player One”) and Matt Lieberman (“The Addams Family”). Reynolds excels in this role with his comedy and action skills, many seen before in films like “Deadpool” or “Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard.” The script flows well from the game world to the real world where Millie (Jodie Comer, “Killing Eve”) and Walter “Keys” McKeys (Joe Keery, “Stranger Things”) live and work. They were programming partners once upon a time, but something has come between them in their professional world. Keys went to work for Soonami, the gaming company owned by Antwan (Taika Waititi) that acquired their project. Even if you do not invest dollars in video games, you will be glad you invested your dollars to watch the full cast bring the two worlds to life. Try not to fall out of your chair laughing.

If you think you have seen the trailer for this film one too many times since last year (when it was going to be released), don’t judge the film yet nor think you know entirely what it is about. Once in the theater, you might think some scenes are familiar and that will come from similarities you may catch if you watch action films quite a bit. Those similarities will not keep the audience from enjoying what the “Blue Shirt Guy” wants to do and ultimately does after he steps out from behind the bank desk.  When Guy sees who he thinks is the girl of his dreams, he falls in love, and this is game changing.

In “Free City,” Guy has been taught some rules, including who are the “sunglass people” and what they do (among them Channing Tatum), and everyone else (NPCs), “live” in repeat mode (“Groundhog Day” style). Guy’s daily changing actions now causes players to notice and certainly not the way Antwan wants. Waititi as Antwan is hilarious and over the top as he portrays this rich, immature and horrible character. He orders Keys and his Soonami colleague, Mouser (Utkarsh Ambudkar) to do all that is necessary to be rid of Guy and the newfound knowledge. When all else fails, watch out for Antwan. Viewers will love to hate him.

“Free Guy” is fun and entertaining, plus it is a change from the other action films available that might be more gore and guts than some audiences care for. Free Guy is better expected, all the way to the last few scenes (I won’t spoil it for you). What I find surprising in the script is a story about love and what you may be missing out on.  Snap out of the loop!

The cast also includes Lil Rel Howery and Camille Kostek, among others. It is rated PG-13 and is in theaters on August 13, 2021.

Source: 20th Century Studios

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