It has been more or less impossible to miss targeted ads for Free Guy if you’re a gamer on the internet, the new Ryan Reynolds blockbuster where he plays an NPC turned hero in a GTA/Fortnite-like video game world.
While I have not been especially moved by the trailers or promotion for the film, which involves heavy-handed plugs from gaming influencers, it turns out the film is actually…pretty good, at least judging by dozens of early reviews.
Free Guy currently has an 86% on Rotten Tomatoes, a very solid score for any comedy or action blockbuster on the site. There aren’t all that many comparable movies, but if we’re talking about the “video game movie without being an adaptation of a specific game or IP” we have movies like Wreck-It Ralph and its sequel, Ralph Breaks the internet, which reviewed similarly at 87% and 88% respectively. Free Guy is also reviewing better than Ready Player One at a 72%, a film that I thought was probably better than the book it adapted.
Ryan Reynolds’ filmography is pretty hit or miss, but he shines in absurdist action comedies like this and two Deadpool movies now. He’s had some solid outings in non-comedies too, like Buried, but some rather high profile misses as well. Yes, Green Lantern, but besides that, 6 Underground, which Netflix hoped would become a huge franchise, and RIPD. Here, he’s back in form.
Free Guy also brings in a lot of budding TV stars, namely Jodie Comer from Killing Eve and Joe Keery from Stranger Things, both highly praised in those respective roles.
Free Guy seems like the closest thing we will get to a Grand Theft Auto movie in a long while, and possibly even more GTA than an actual GTA movie would be. What I mean by that is when we do get a GTA movie, it will probably be a straight adaptation of a crime story from one of the games, rather than exploring the wacky absurdity that is GTA Online where players stalk each other in fighter jets and supercars, which is exactly what Free Guy is leaning into. It’s no surprise that the best video game movies are ones about video games, rather than actual adaptations of video games, which until recently, have fallen so flat that it became known as a curse in the genre. We have Castlevania, Sonic the Hedgehog and The Witcher to thank for breaking that.
In short, barring a Fortnite or GTA movie that is as self-aware as it should be, Free Guy seems like the closest thing we’ll get to realizing the absurdity of online games at the moment, and apparently, it’s done its job quite well. I’m sold, and this has gone from a probably-miss for me to a must-see.