“Free Guy” (20th Century)
By Catholic News Service
Droll comic adventure in which Ryan Reynolds plays a contented bank teller in a weirdly dystopian city who, like his best friend, a security guard (Lil Rel Howery), goes through his highly repetitive daily routine while blithely ignoring the mayhem constantly unfolding around him until making the startling discovery that he is, in fact, a background figure in a combat-laden, hugely popular video game. Despite his status as a so-called non-playable character, he begins to break the mold of his preprogrammed behavior and assert his individuality, spurred on by his love for the avatar of a gifted real-life game designer (Jodie Comer).
Director Shawn Levy’s sly celebration of Reynolds’ Everyman elevates creativity over profit-seeking through its depiction of a sleazy executive (Taika Waititi) and his theft and perversion of the far more peaceful title Comer’s character and her longtime partner and would-be boyfriend (Joe Keery) developed together. But Matt Lieberman and Zak Penn’s script, while ostensibly condemning the havoc by which their protagonist’s environment is beset, nonetheless endow his new persona with impressive fighting skills. And there’s a vaguely anti-religious tone to a few of their jokes.
Much stylized but sometimes harsh violence, irreverent and sexual humor, a few uses of profanity, several milder oaths, at least one rough term, frequent crude and crass language. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III — adults. The Motion Picture Association rating is PG-13 — parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.