It’s not unfair to say that most movies based on video games have been cinematic disappointments, from Super Mario Bros and Streetfighter to more recent additions like Ratchet And Clank, Prince of Persia and Assassin’s Creed. And let’s not forget Pixels (actually, it may be better if we didn’t remember it), which took beloved arcade game characters and plonked them in a movie with no humour or plot to speak of.
So it is a relief to report that Free Guy – set partly in a fictitious computer game and partly in the real world – is better than all those films put together and, with its mix of action, humour, heart and slick graphics, may possibly be the best video game movie of all.
The plot goes like this: Guy (Reynolds) thinks he is an employee in a bank, but in fact he is a secondary character (an NPC – non-player character) in a Grand Theft Auto-style open world video game called Free City. The action takes place all around him but every day for Guy is the same, until a character called Molotov Girl (Comer) walks past and he begins to question his own existence.
In the real world, Molotov Girl is actually game designer Millie, who along with her former tech partner Keys (Stranger Things’ Keery), suspects that developer Antoine (Waititi, going a little too far over the top in places) stole their original idea and hid it inside Free City. Millie has been going into the game to find evidence of Antoine’s crime, and it is there she meets sweet, unassuming Guy, who may be the one person (sorry, character) who can help her.
A 21st century twist on The Truman Show as Guy explores his new reality, this has all the computer wizardry you want, plus sight gags, witty dialogue and some fun cameos. Reynolds is as fun as you’d expect (though it has to be noted that Guy is a little too quick-witted even before he breaks free of the game restrictions) and Comer, best known for TV’s Killing Eve, is perfect on the big screen as the tough Millie.
The real joy to Free Guy however, is its warmth. It doesn’t matter than the plot is somewhat predictable (you won’t ever doubt that Millie and Keys will bring down Antoine) when you have a script that makes you smile, characters that you care for and a rousing use of Mariah Carey’s Fantasy that will have you cheering and humming long after you have left the cinema.
Is Free Guy suitable for kids? Here are our parents’ notes...
This is a 12A certificate film, due to some bad language and mild violence.
Younger children should not be upset – as the movie is mainly set inside the game, the characters can ‘die’ but come back to life again. There is some peril later in the movie but it is mild.
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