Writing reviews can be made easier or difficult by virtue of the piece of work being reviewed. The thing about writing reviews for films like Ryan Reynolds’ Free Guy, is that you really have to scrounge up and scrape the bottom of the barrel to gather something, something that can make the review whole, with the irony of the artwork being miles away from ‘whole’.

Guy lives in Free City where everything is hunky-dory. A shop gets robbed, but well no worries, it’s a Monday ritual. Bank is held hostage but well no worries, the writers must have written the scene for a reason even if it’s not really apparent. Guy is the one who introduces us to the city in a rather jolly manner. The film will give you The Truman Show vibes but that there is a red flag as watching Free Guy is an experience of déjà vu for you keep thinking you have seen parts of the movie in different movies! 

Long story short, Guy soon starts doubting everything around him – from his everyday coffee order that has never changed to his attitude towards life itself. And like most of the greatest works ever produced in any field, this epiphany has been courtesy of love – the doing of a chance encounter (which he saw coming from 29 yards out) that makes his heart skip a beat and mind spin. He learns he is an algorithm in a curated video game by the evil Antoine (Taiki Waititi). And because love’s intensity is directly proportional to rebellious doings, Guy steps up to help the woman he’s fallen for to take down Antoine.

You see, every now and then, I believe, a Hollywood studio decides to go bonkers with the excess money lying around which they don’t know what to do with. So they build huge sets, put in enough gimmicks for distractions from screenplays and just start shooting. No matter what they make, if it opens with an image the audience coincides with a big studio, people will watch it. Free Guy is precisely that.

Take The Matrix, The Truman Show, Ready Player One and put them in a blender. Ask Ryan Reynolds to do a bottoms up on the shake and you’ll get Guy from Free City!

The film has enough cameos to make it an ensemble cast from Channing Tatum to Waititi. But you don’t emotionally connect to Guy. And don’t forget even Wall-E made us cry! 

Shawn Levy, after making Stranger Things, deals in superficial references in Free Guy. There’s not much for a director to do when algorithms are in place for both in the film and the script; it’s a safe way out because a good number of people will always be fascinated with explosions and jet packs because that good number of people will always be first time watchers of franchise-type films. But to be critical and demand more is the beauty of this democratic medium, with its own flaws and rough edges. 

Free Guy is now streaming on Disney+ Hotstar.


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