Free Guy (2021)
Directed by Shawn Levy
Starring Ryan Reynolds, Jodie Comer, Lil Rel Howery & Taika Waititi
How does he do it? How can an actor be himself in almost every role and still be considered a dynamic, likable star? I guess the answer is by being Ryan Reynolds.
In National Lampoon’s Van Wilder (2002), Reynolds established that he looks like an attractive alpha male type, but, in actuality, he is a charming, sarcastic man who’s in touch with his feminine side.
Playing off this “Is he a bro? Guess not” persona, the actor has given audiences many enjoyable roles. From being the best thing about Blade: Trinity (2004), to his charming turn as numerous characters in The Nines (2007), Ryan playing Ryan seems to have no limits. And, of course, Ryan was great as Wade Wilson aka Deadpool – a beloved comic book character that none of its readers ever thought could be accurately portrayed on film. (Wow, this review quickly turned into a Ryan Reynolds love fest. Sorry, not sorry.)
For any actor, I’m sure this analysis could be a tough pill to swallow, but hopefully Reynolds takes it as compliment. He reminds me of Hollywood stars of old, like a Carey Grant or Jimmy Stewart. They’d sign on with studios for a certain number of films and make even the duds worth watching, simply due to their presence. Reynolds has certainly been in some stinkers, like Green Lantern (2011), R.I.P.D. (2013) and Red Notice (2021), but, if you’ve suffered through these films, you know that watching Ryan as Ryan was the best part. Could Free Guy be another Ryan as Ryan success? Yes.
Free Guy is a charming take on the question “What is sentient life?” And, as humans, who are we to determine this? Of course, along with his wit and silly charm come action sequences to hold the attention of audiences that aren’t looking for philosophical quandaries. These action scenes are adequate, but it’s the film’s humor that really shines – especially when it comes from the lead character or his nemesis Antwan, played by Taika Waititi. Rounding out the cast is Lil Rel Howery as Guy’s friend and confidant and the talented Jodie Comer as Millie, a possible love interest for Guy. Did I mention Ryan Reynolds plays Guy? As in, “Get that Guy. We love that Guy. That Guy can do no wrong.” And “that’s our guy.”
Ryan Reynolds is certainly our guy. And this film out Matrixes all of the Matrixes (save the original) by accurately and subtly having us question the nature of reality. Do we want to continue on this path or make a change and be….free?
If the other films that came out in 2021 that asked this question (Reminiscence, Matrix 4) were D’s, then Free Guy was an enjoyable B-.