REVIEW / FILM REVIEW – Ryan Reynolds and Jodie Comer form a perfect duo in the action comedy “Free Guy”, a sort of meeting between “The Truman Show” and “Westworld” in addition to joyful and light.
Cinema and video game in tune
Successful encounters between cinema and video games are rare. However, some productions have found the right angle to mix these two mediums. Ralph’s Worlds for example made an interesting choice by immersing us in an arcade video game alongside a big arm who no longer wishes to be the villain of the game. The animated film thus seeks first to tell an original story but by being in the world of video games. There is some of that in Free Guy, new feature film by Shawn Levy, which arrives seven years later Night at the Museum 3.
Here, the video game character we follow is called Guy. If he thinks he’s a simple bank clerk always with the same routine (a coffee in the morning for him, and the robbery of his bank in the afternoon), he is actually a NPC (non-player character) of Free City. A game between GTA and Fortnite which allows players to create their avatar and roam the city to complete quests. Things change for Guy when he obtains gamer glasses and thus learns about the world around him. A bit easy and not so much explained, but it allows you to start a generous comedy.
Comic and video game version of Westworld
By its comical tone, Free Guy remember The Truman Show, who watched Jim Carrey unwittingly star in a reality show. And by staging an evolving artificial intelligence, we think for example of Westworld or video game Detroit. In these two works, androids become aware of their existence and of the violence inflicted on them by men. An always fascinating subject on the place of machines, their possibility of developing a form of humanity and thus questioning ours.
Obviously, Free Guy is above all an entertainment much less gloomy than the two cases mentioned above. A very effective action comedy, rather creative visually and particularly well paced for a feature film of almost two hours. But by its subject and its treatment, the film gains depth and interest. What, at first glance, looked like a Hollywood banality around video games, is finally a very good surprise. And this, despite a somewhat reductive representation of gamers, from the world of video games and above all from its great pundits, embodied here by freewheeling Taika Waititi.
A duo of thunder
Conversely, we can only rejoice in front of the duo formed by Ryan Reynolds (in his usual register) and Jodie Comer (always very nice). The first does not overdo it and amuses by his naivety and good humor. The second is entitled to enough variety by playing a badass avatar in the game, and in reality a lonely programmer. Shawn Levy strikes a balance so that the two performers manage to coexist, and intelligently develop the relationship of their characters. Thus, we navigate between comedy, action, but also romance, with a purpose that could have been more daring.
In the meantime, the director constantly manages to surprise with perfectly made gags, likea hilarious cameo by Chris Evans. Winks to pop culture are offered sparingly. Which finally allows us to make a link with a last reference, Ready Player One, but in a much less ambitious register than the production of Steven Spielberg. Which is ultimately not to displease. The simplicity of Free Guy being perhaps one of its primary qualities.
Free Guy by Shawn Levy, released on August 11, 2021. Above the trailer. Find all our trailers here.