Early reactions from film critics who have seen Ryan Reynolds’s video game inspired movie Free Guy are largely in praise of the film.
Although a video game film will usually have mixed reactions from critics at best, the responses have been overwhelmingly positive for Free Guy, with some calling the film the best summer movie for 2021. Critics have shared their thoughts about the film on Twitter, and even Reynolds himself is surprised at the avalanche of positive feedback. Check out the details of these early Free Guy reactions below.
The Tale of the Free Guy
Free Guy tells the story of a non-player character (aka NPC) in what appears to be a massively multiplayer online game (MMO). As with actual video game mechanics, NPCs serve as the set dressing population for the environment. Most can be interacted with, while others just wander around.
Some NPCs are actually useful, such as shopkeepers, bankers, quest givers, or sources of information. Guy (Ryan Reynolds) is a banker NPC, but one that appears to have a level of sentience, enough that he longs for more than his usual routines and tasks. Then, due to unforeseen circumstances, he gets his wish and becomes an anomaly in the game.
Along the way, he meets Milly (Jodie Comer) who shows Guy his actual existence as an NPC in the video game. But the game is in danger of being shut down. Guy decides to become a hero and try to save the game, along with the other NPCs who would be wiped out if he fails.
Free Guy production
Free Guy started its production under 20th Century Fox. However, the production was postponed after the Disney and Fox merger was initiated and eventually came to fruition. Once the merger was completed, Free Guy continued its production (in fact, it's one of the first few big projects that continued life after the Disney acquisition) under the newly established 20th Century Studios.
Further complications arose after the global COVID-19 pandemic started. Then, after the production wrapped up, it was initially scheduled for a July 3, 2020 theatrical release. The health crisis pushed it back to December 11, 2020. However, as the pandemic continued to prevent mass gatherings such as movie theater screenings, Disney decided to push the release to the following year 2021. But the new tentative release date was again altered by Disney to later in the year.
Reynolds even shared a funny tweet to confirm the new release date and assure fans this will be the final time that it would be pushed back:
— Ryan Reynolds (@VancityReynolds) March 23, 2021
Of course, the clip would not be complete if Reynolds did not leave a zinger at the end, that there might still be a delay if something comes up.
Although full reviews are still embargoed, reviewers who have had the opportunity to watch Free Guy have been enthusiastically sharing their general feedback on social media.
Jamie Jirak of ComicBook.com praised Reynolds and Comer’s performance and on-screen chemistry, saying "gamers will certainly appreciate it the most".
#FreeGuy is very cute and surprisingly easy follow if you know nothing about gaming, but gamers will certainly appreciate it the most. Ryan Reynolds is as charming as ever and Jodie Comer is as badass as ever. It's not something I'd rush out to see again, but it's worth a watch.
— Jamie Jirak (@JamieCinematics) July 22, 2021
Scott Menzel calls the film "the most fun I’ve had watching a movie all year. Wildly entertaining & hilarious from beginning to end", calling it a cross between The Truman Show and Ready Player ONE.
#FreeGuy is the most fun I’ve had watching a movie all year. Wildly entertaining & hilarious from beginning to end. It deserves to be seen on the big screen, not only for the spectacular visuals but for the plethora of surprises throughout. It’s Truman Show meets Ready Player One pic.twitter.com/X9Vec5tluj
— Scott Menzel (@ScottDMenzel) July 22, 2021
Jazz Tangcay of Variety states "Taika Waititi is the best bad guy ever!" She also praised the partnership of Reynolds and Comer as the leads of the film.
#FreeGuy is so much fun. Utterly enjoyable! Taika Waititi is the best bad guy ever! Take note Hollywood! Get ready to ship Jodie Comer and Ryan Reynolds. Props to Shawn Levy for the best use ever of Mariah Carey's Fantasy!! pic.twitter.com/PDR60MhS9r
— Jazz Tangcay (@jazzt) July 22, 2021
Joel Meares, editor-in-chief of Rotten Tomatoes, says Free Guy is "one of the freshest-feeling, genuinely funny, and surprisingly moving big-budget adventure movies in years." Like other critics, he praises the performances of Reynolds and Comer, but also that of Joe Keery (Stranger Things).
I was extremely skeptical heading into #FreeGuy – heading out, I was a huge fan.
One of the freshest-feeling, genuinely funny, and surprisingly moving big-budget adventure movies in years.
Ryan Reynolds is great, of course, but watch out for Joe Keery and Jodie Comer. Stars. pic.twitter.com/QD6T5EL5NT
— Joel Meares (@joelmeares) July 22, 2021
As expected, Ryan Reynolds himself joins in on the fun, sharing his response to Steven Weintraub of Collider’s reaction to Free Guy:
— Ryan Reynolds (@VancityReynolds) July 22, 2021
Ryan Reynolds has not had a lot of success in films that have less than an R-rating. The one exception would be Detective Pikachu, but that was only voice work and the film’s success was virtually guaranteed due to the popularity of the Pokémon franchise. By comparison, his films such as Green Lantern and RIPD were critical and commercial failures.
On the other hand, Reynolds has had much success with such films as Deadpool and earlier works like Van Wilder, which were in the R-rated category. Free Guy might just be the biggest PG-13 performance of a Ryan Reynolds film if the early reactions are any indication. Marvel Studios and Disney will likely be very happy with that news as Deadpool eventually becomes fully integrated into the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
In Twentieth Century Studio’s epic adventure-comedy "Free Guy," a bank teller who discovers he is actually a background player in an open-world video game decides to become the hero of his own story…one he rewrites himself. Now in a world where there are no limits, he is determined to be the guy who saves his world his way…before it is too late.
Free Guy stars Ryan Reynolds, Jodie Comer, Taika Waititi, Joe Keery, Channing Tatum, Lil Rel Howery, and Utkarsh Ambudkar. Free Guy is directed by Shawn Levy with a U.S. theatrical release date of August 31, 2021.