After the wall-to-wall ugliness of last week's The Suicide Squad, the sunny cheerfulness of the new Ryan Reynolds video game adventure-comedy Free Guy is refreshing.
Director Shawn Levy's film follows Guy, a non-player character in a popular online video game called Free City. The game is sort of like Grand Theft Auto where players can randomly shoot, punch, or rob people as they see fit. Guy and the other non-player characters all cheerfully accept their lot in the virtual world. That is, until one day Guy sees the avatar of Millie (Jodie Comer) in the game.
Millie's in the game to try to find proof her code work was stolen by video game mogul Antwan (Taika Waititi). Guy is instantly smitten, and Millie is confused then intrigued how a video game character is starting to think for himself. Meanwhile, Guy is confounding video game users by doing good deeds in his virtual world instead of killing, fighting, and stealing.
I won't divulge more of the plot, but Reynolds and Comer have great chemistry together and are both easy to root for. The film mixes in elements of Blade Runner (a lifeform created by humans becoming self-aware and questioning his own existence), Tron (a real person in a video game), and They Live (glasses that allow the wearer to see a hidden world) but somehow turns them into a fun, light piece of summer entertainment the whole family can enjoy.
*** stars (out of four)