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Review of Free Guy: “The Truman Show” for the “GTA” generation

A blockbuster full of colorful, flashing computer effects that takes place in a world that is obviously inspired by the video game hit “GTA 5” – and then there are real Twitch megastars such as Ninja or Pokimane. Everything on “Free guy“Sounds like a cynically calculated corporate product or the wet dream of a marketing department that tries to ingratiate itself with the oh-so-hip gamer target group by all means. Even if you take from super nerd Ryan Reynolds his absolute passion for the subject, that doesn’t necessarily mean something – before “Deadpool” came the comic flops “Blade: Trinity” and “Green Lantern”.

All fears were in vain

But puff pie: Director Shawn Levy, who has shot tons of soulless studio productions in his career – from the super annoying family comedy “Cheaper by the Dozen” to the disguised Google advertisement “” – delivers the feeling of wellbeing with “Free Guy” -Blockbuster of the season! The fantasy-action-comedy set in a video game city is not only damn clever in ambiguous play with game conventions …

… she also has an astonishingly big heart, which despite all the bits and bytes feels so much more real than the whole family talk from Dom in “Fast & Furious 9”. Is it too exaggerated to categorize “Free Guy” as “The Truman Show” for the MMO generation? Of course it is! But he’s still a lot closer than most of us would have thought possible …

A super sympathetic duo: Guy (Ryan Reynolds) and his best buddy Buddy (Lel Rel Howery).

Guy (Ryan Reynolds) is just a guy with a goldfish who goes to work as a cashier in a bank in the same blue shirt every day. What is really noticeable is that the bank is attacked dozens of times in every single shift – and that it is a general part of the cityscape in Free City that heavily armed helicopters whiz through the urban canyons and sun-gazed “heroes” simply hit unsuspecting passers-by in the face without them it would itch this big.

Guy is an NPC (= non-playable character) in a video game – and so he just does what his code tells him to do. At least until one day he meets the mysterious Molotov Girl (Jodie Comer) on the street. From then on, he just couldn’t get it out of his head – and deviated more and more from his algorithmically determined behavior. When he ordered a cappuccino and not the usual coffee on his way to work one morning, he set off a colossal chain reaction …

Not for noobs

When Hollywood films want to allude to the aesthetics of video games, often just a score or a life bar is shown in the upper right corner – regardless of whether it makes sense at the moment or not. But every single minute “Free Guy” is crammed full of video gamer references that not only play harmoniously with the conventions of the genre, but also repeatedly undermine them with a satirical bite. There are an incredible number of clever, often even subversive ideas hidden in the supposedly wild birds – only they are not explained to you. Anyone who is not at all familiar with the world of “GTA” and Twitch will quickly feel lost, apart from a lonely “Jeopardy!” Allusion.

… and in the middle of all the health packs, skins and level ups, Ryan Reynolds obviously has the time of his life. As – much more attractive than average – anyone with a preference for chewing gum ice is his enthusiasm for Free City just highly contagious (with his naive but engaging good-naturedness he reminds a little of Emmet from “The LEGO Movie”). In addition, it is mainly thanks to the superstar’s passion for pop culture (as well as the industry relationships) that we get a franchise crossover in the finale, at least for a short time, which fans in “reality” will probably look forward to for a long time without success. His second role as a muscular DUDE, who constantly uses placeholder terms such as “catch phrase” or “adjective” because his character has not yet been programmed, turns out to be self-deprecating comedy gold.

The discovery of the film: After the TV screens, Jodie Comer is now rocking the big screen!

Even more than Ryan Reynolds, however, Jodie Comer is the actual theatrical surprise of the film: After the British woman as the murderous sociopath in “Killing Eve” has been stirring up the series landscape for years (and incidentally embodied Rey’s mother in “Star Wars 9”), she succeeds now the jump to the screen star right away. She enriches her role as a badass amazon with her very own vibe (although that only makes up half of her part anyway, but the other is not revealed here for spoiler reasons). The chemistry between Comer and Reynolds is also right – which only makes it even more gratifying that the romance between the main characters in “Free Guy” does not go the classic way in the end, but instead hits a coherent little catch.

Speaking of chemistry: “Free Guy” is full of video game action – but in the end it is mainly the sympathetic moments that stay in the memory: Guy wants to level up as quickly as possible in order to be able to help Molotov Girl with her mission – but he refuses to use violence to apply, with which he is called Blue Shirt Guy initiates a real (real-world) revolution. At first glance, that too may sound like instructive studio rubbish: Hollywood wants to explain to gamers that things can be done without violence (even much better). But here, too, applies again: In “Free Guy” everything is told so cleverly and honestly at the end that you can hardly resist the warmth of the film …

Conclusion: “Free Guy” is the feel-good blockbuster of the summer – not only extremely entertaining, but also super personable. Ryan Reynolds and Jodie Comer rock – and the script is so much smarter than what you’re used to in Hollywood video game films. Those who have never played “Grand Theft Auto” or a comparable game in their life will have big problems following the hustle and bustle on the screen – “Free Guy” has a very big heart, but not for noobs.



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