I took my twelve-year-old nephew Tarquin to the cinema the other day with his new boyfriend. How refreshingly open children are these days. I was so far in the closet at that age I was practically in Narnia. I digress, apologies. Tarquin and his latest squeeze Rupert were desperate to see the new Ryan Reynolds flick ‘Free Guy’. So finding myself with a free afternoon, we all skipped merrily along the high street to my local picture-house.
I must admit to not having seen many Ryan Reynolds films, they all are a bit too action-packed for my liking, so my expectations were decidedly low. I have to say, I have not been this pleasantly surprised since the big burly bouncer outside my local hotspot smiled at me and gave me his number. What a treat! The film, not the bouncer, he turned to be a bit of a letdown. Not big all over, sadly. Back to the film. Genuinely the most fun I have had in the cinema in a very long time.
The premise is not one I thought my young chums might follow too well, it appeared a bit complicated at first, but they lapped it up. Ryan plays ‘Guy’. A bank teller in a violent video game that is what is known as an ‘NPC’. To all the adults out there like me, who know nothing of this world, that is a non-playing-character. Basically, it is a dispensable person. Someone who gets killed repeatedly by the people online who are actually playing the game. These include security guards, people in coffee shops etc.
With more than a nod to ‘The Truman Show’, and ‘Groundhog Day, Guy realises there is much more to the world he is living in than first meets the eye. This is verified one day when he dons a pair of special sunglasses and becomes privy to all the privileges that people playing the game from the comfort of their bedrooms are allowed. Thus the adventure begins. I am not going to go into too much detail from here on in, as it will sound far more complicated than it actually is. Suffice to say even an old fuddy-duddy like me understood what was going on.
The cast does a sterling job, as does the writer Matt Liebermann. Like most Disney films, there is an elegant sufficiency of jokes for the parents. Guy in particular delivers a few incredible one-liners that made me laugh so hard I nearly choked on my Maltesers. The script is razor-sharp. And with a supporting cast that includes the sterling Jodie Comer and the wonderful Canning Chatum in an hilarious cameo, you are in for a treat dear readers. Hats off to director Shawn Levy, the director of the “Night At The Museum’ series. His Midas touch does not appear to be dulling any time soon. As an aside, apparently Levy originally passed on the script a few years ago, but decided to give it a go after meeting Ryan Reynolds through mutual friend Hugh Jackman. I’m so glad he did. This could have been a disaster in the hands of a lesser mortal.
Disney films can often be heavy-handed in their desire to show future generations the need to ‘be good’. This time however, they get it just right. A damning indictment of the danger of violent video games, American gun laws and the greed of all these new tech companies; ‘Fee Guy’ uses action-packed humour to teach us all a lesson far less boring than any Sunday school sermon, but just as important. A life filled with good deeds is one to aspire to. Even in a world full of people who make you want to blow their heads off with a machine gun. A lesson to us all.
‘Free Guy’ is currently showing at The Embassy Cinemas in Valletta.