By: Jim West
Directed by Shawn Levy
Written by Matt Lieberman and Zak Penn
Ryan Reynolds is a juggernaut of a marketing genius. His involvement in any project seems to guarantee laughs and hi jinks galore. This film is no exception to that. The writers in this film take online video gaming and craft a story about a NPC (Non-player Character) and give this film such a heart and sneaks a romance angle in the films final moments that is quite sweet given the subtle clues they put along the runtime. This film is packed full of video game jargon, references, and cameos that are simply amazing to see. Blink and you may miss it cameos by Hugh Jackson, Chris Evans, Tina Fey, the late Alex Trebek, Dwayne Johnson, John Krasinski, and Channing Tatum are sprinkled throughout the film. I also like how they utilized popular game streamers such as Jacksepticeye, Ninja, Pokimane, DanTDM, and LazarBeam throughout the film. This film is wonderfully written and earns a Writing a Movie RIGHT review.
Here comes the spoilers.
The film opens with the introduction to the video game world Free City. Essentially anyone who has played Grand Theft Auto will see the immediate references as the opening montage sets the world and rules up for us. People wearing sunglasses are the players in this world and they get to do anything they want. NPCs are in this game world living their routine lives day by day. Yet Ryan Reynold’s character, simply named Guy, yearns for more. He yearns for someone to love. Then one day he sees a girl and is smitten by her. He follows her but get run over by a train. He wakes up the next day determined to get to know her. He takes the glasses off a player in the game and see the world is more than he saw before. He learns that he needs to level up so he proceeds to do so not by robbing banks or hurting people, but by being the good guy. This catches the gaming communities eyes and he goes viral as Blue Shirt Guy.
The owner of the game company Soonami, Antwan, played by the brilliant Taika Waititi wants to capitalize on Blue Shirt guys popularity to drive sales of his upcoming video game release Free City 2. The game was built using the Artificial Intelligence engine that Millie and Keys developed that was bought by Soonami but never released. Millie goes into the game seeking proof that Antwan used their code for Free City, and eventually crosses paths with Guy and he falls for her. Yet as things progress, Keys who still works for Antwan discovers that Guy is an NPC that has changed his code because it is using the AI he and Millie developed. Now they must hurry as Free City 2 release will wipe out the code and AI that is in Free City. As Antwan see sales slump for Free City 2 he decides it is time to kill off Guy. Yet Guy manages to come back and Millie and Keys work to save their game and code.
The cameos and video game references galore pack this film for the full runtime. The relationship between Guy and Millie is cute, and even better is the friendship between Guy and his best friend Buddy (Lil Rel Howery). This actually was very well handled and gives the film some expected heart. Even the romance angle that has some breadcrumbs laid out doesn’t come up front and center until the last scenes of the film. It also is handled well and to sum it up just sweet. A sweet bow tie of a ending. I can only imagine if they decide to take on a sequel. The possibilities are endless.
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