What do you do when you find out you’re stuck in a video game and the life you’ve been living isn’t real? In fact, all you are is a digital presence, a side character created for the amusement of players — real life human beings who waltz in and out of the game through their virtual alter-egos?
A bit late to the Hollywood blockbuster Free Guy party, I have to say that it’s one of the most fun and heartwarming films I’ve seen in a while.
Canadian actor Ryan Reynolds, who kickstarted his career as a teenager with a role in the TV series Fifteen, stars as ‘Guy’, a perpetually cheerful blue-shirted man who goes through the motions of his daily routine happily — getting coffee, serving customers at a bank, delivering his catchphrase ‘Don’t have a good day, have a great day’ and smiling through a daily heist, getting down on the floor and chatting with his friend, security guard Buddy (an amazing Lil Del Howery).
The appearance of Millie (Jodie Comer) a player who is out to settle a score by uncovering information while inside the game, throws his orderly life into disarray as he’s charmed by her in a first encounter on the street where she’s walking along singing the Mariah Carey hit Fantasy (which features heavily throughout the film).
What follows is a thrilling and funny adventure peppered with appearances from famous faces in Hollywood. Despite knowing next to nothing about the famous video games the film references, or the popular YouTubers featured in cameos, it was Free Guy’s heart that appealed to me; it’s a quality very few films have.
You could tell Ryan Reynolds (an old favourite from his Two Guys and a Girl days) was having an awesome time portraying Guy, a light-hearted and sincere character who’s the kind of friend or partner we all want.
I loved the simple friendship showcased between Guy and Buddy; a scene where they discuss not being ‘real’ in Guy’s apartment gives you food for thought. Buddy expresses to Guy that it doesn’t matter if their life isn’t real because he’s happy.
My biggest takeaway from Free Guy was that it kind of pushes you to live in the moment and be content with what you’ve got, and yet, encourages you to challenge your daily routine, your value systems, and take chances and risks.
It’s also a sweet ode to love, that age-old emotion breezily updated to the digital age over the years; Guy and Millie experience a growing attraction to each other which culminates in a bittersweet ending that I’ll admit I didn’t see coming.
There are many reasons to watch Free Guy, but mostly because it will leave you with a smile on your face, feeling a little bit nostalgic and also immensely grateful that an artist like Ryan Reynolds exists to uplift millions of cinema buffs with his work and provide us a much-needed escape from our daily lives, albeit for an hour or two. Also, Mariah Carey’s Fantasy is not a bad song to have stuck in your head for a while.
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