They say that some roles change actors. Normally they are talking about character actors like Leonardo Di Caprio or Heath Ledger who take themselves to a dark place for a role and never seem to really recover from it. In the case of Ryan Reynolds it has felt like he has changed ever since he graced our screens as dry super-hero Deadpool.
Since playing the controversial, yet very popular, character it has felt that whatever role Reynolds takes on he has to find a way to try and play the character as a man-child with quick wit. The release of the trailer for his latest film Free Guy showed that once again Reynolds was back with his now familiar shtick, but for once it isn’t a negative for the film – in fact Free Guy is one of those films where the trailer actually does a disservice to the film itself as it doesn’t show the ‘heart’ that the film contains.
Here Reynolds plays Guy, a man that his happy with his very simple life. He wakes up every morning, says good morning to his goldfish Goldy, grabs a coffee and goes to work at a bank where he and his best friend, security guard Buddy (Lil Rel Howery – Vacation Friends), find themselves in the middle of a bank robbery four or five times a day.
See Guy and Buddy don’t realise it but they are part of an open world game developed by Keys (Joe Keery – Stranger Things) and Millie (Jodie Comer – Killing Eve) who deeply care about the game and the characters inside it – sadly though the corporation boss Antwan (Taika Waititi – JoJo Rabbit) only sees the game as a money making venture that will boost his own popularity and wealth.
Things take a turn though when Keys and Millie realise that Guy is developed a new form of intelligence to the point where his is falling in love with Millie’s avatar and has decided to try and make the world a better place. While the advancement in technology excites Keys and Millie it makes Antwan determined to turn off the game, kill Guy and move onto the next expansion.
While the plot itself sounds really simplistic somehow screenwriters Matt Lieberman (The Addams Family) and Zak Penn (The Avengers) manage to write true heart and emotion into the screenplay which is further enhanced by director Shawn Levy (Real Steel) who manages to full off that rare feat of an action film with a soul.
While the film is far from a masterpiece there are elements of Free Guy that will surprise the audience. As mentioned earlier Reynolds does again bring his man-child character traits to the screen but somehow that actually works for the naive Guy early on the film. He does allow the character to grow as Guy’s intelligence grows and there are some truly beautiful scenes between Guy and Millie and Guy and Buddy. You probably wouldn’t expect it from a film like Free Guy but there are moments in this film where the reactions and emotions Guy experiences from the world and events around him will cause a tear to well up in the eyes of audience members watching on.
Throughtout the film the filmmakers and screenplay allows the film to expertly mix action with heart. At times there will be a sequence of pure action, Guy running from gunfire, buildings exploding etc and right in the middle of it Guy will do something like protect an innocent or notice how Millie is looking back at him and the audience are once again reminded that this is not just another one of those soulless movies full of special effects.
While at times it does feel like more could have been done with the characters of Keys and Millie they are nicely brought to the screen by Joe Keery and Jodie Comer. Comer is brilliant in her role, a role where she has to play both the thoughtful and intelligent version of Millie in the real world and the all action led avatar that wouldn’t look out of place in a movie like Jumanji or Tomb Raider.
Keery once again shows why he is one of the most exciting young stars to come out of Stranger Things and he shares some well written scenes with Taiki Waititi who once again manages to steal the show despite playing what one can only call a one-dimensional villain.
There will be a lot of people going to see Free Guy that will be expecting it to be one of the worst films of the year, so they will be pleasantly surprised when they realise that this is a film that is a hell of a lot better than it should be. Most audience members will enjoy the film because for once a filmmaking team has created a film that mixes action, fantasy, comedy and real emotion together in a way that actually works.