“Guy” (Ryan Reynolds) is a bank clerk, he wears the same trousers and shirt everyday, not unusual because these are the only items in his wardrobe. He drinks coffee everyday at the same place, never changing his order.
Guy chats with his best friend “Buddy” (Lil Rel Howery), continuing their conversation as the bank gets robbed at gunpoint, as it does every day. In fact, often several times during the day which would seem unlikely, unless you are a non playable character (NPC) in a video game.
The conceit being, Guy does not realise he is in a video game.
In the real world, “Millie” (Jodie Comer) and “Keys” (Joe Keery) are ruing the day, their “self awareness” computer code was stolen by “Antwan” (Taika Waititi). The code subsequently being included in his fabulously popular open world game “Free City”, produced by his company “Soonami”.
The game allows players to adopt an Avatar, customise and “level up” at great expense of course, with in game payments. Millie plays in the game as “Molotov Girl” and Keys at one point, as “Dirty Stripper Cop” with his police partner dressed as a rabbit.
Are you keeping up?
Once NPC Guy dons the special glasses in the game, he realises he is just a collection one’s and zero’s. As self awareness dawns, instead of wreaking havoc, he completes good deeds and becomes something of a legend within the game as “Blue Shirt Guy”.
The film is effectively “Truman Show” lite, substituting laughs and star cameos where it’s better forerunner, chose to go deeper. How would such an existence really affect one’s psyche?
Which is not to say this isn’t just good plain fun, with Ryan Reynolds playing an exaggerated version of himself. So far this routine continues to work and he remains immensely likeable.
Howery provides reliable comedic support and Waititi plays his usual character, creating a lucrative side-line business in taking small parts in big movies, between writing and directing gigs.
The stand-out in a film not designed to showcase acting talent, remains Comer, who is immensely likeable in her very different dual roles. Fearless gun toting motorcycle riding, “cool as” avatar and meek and mild, downtrodden character in the real world. No wonder these games are popular.
The film is understandably chock full of CGI effects, largely integrated seamlessly and proves that anything directors can dream up is now possible. During the films conclusion, Disney’s ownership of movie IP through recent acquisitions, allows for many fun movie references.
The film is unapologetic in not reaching for the heights but after a lengthy delay due to COVID, this makes for an entertaining couple of hours. Colourful, non stop action mind candy, which right now will prove most welcome for the target audience.
Arguably “The Truman Show” for a millennial generation brought up on open world computer games, which is no bad thing.
Not a lot of depth and Reynolds continues to coast but great fun if you are in the right mood to be entertained