Video-game flick Free Guy shows good and bad of gaming community, says Ryan Reynolds

Free Guy opens in cinemas on Aug 12.
Free Guy opens in cinemas on Aug 12.PHOTO: THE WALT DISNEY COMPANY

SINGAPORE - In the action comedy Free Guy, Canadian actor Ryan Reynolds plays Guy, who learns that there are two kinds of beings in his world - characters like himself with rigid behaviour patterns and the players, the wildly unpredictable beings who pop in, create havoc and then leave.

In the game, which combines driving with killing others using a variety of guns and bombs, the players delight in blowing up one another and in destroying Guy's neighbourhood.

The depiction of gamers as destructive gods is a far cry from other movies set in a video-game world, such as animation works Wreck-It Ralph (2012) and its sequel Ralph Breaks The Internet (2018), or the drama Ready Player One (2018). These films tend to portray gamers as more humane and less gleefully anarchic.

Free Guy opens in cinemas on Thursday (Aug 12).

Speaking at an online press conference, Reynolds says the production team worked with the gaming community to get things right.

"They signed off on how authentic the experience was, but that also meant acknowledging imperfections," adds the 44-year-old actor.

In the film, members of the global gaming community unite to help heroes crush villains.

"There are so many beautiful aspects to the community, like how they help people with accessibility issues create a connection with others, but there are other aspects that we talk about in the movie, such as misogyny," Reynolds says.

But it would be wrong to reduce Free Guy to a "video-game movie", he adds. Guy's journey is universal, even if it is set in a virtual world.

"It's a movie about taking back power and coming into your own as a human being."

Reynolds is known for another role that combines humour with action. In Deadpool (2016) and Deadpool 2 (2018), heplays thetitle character, a wisecracking Marvel superhero.

At first glance, the naive Guy and the worldly Deadpool appear to have nothing in common, but Reynolds notes: "Deadpool has the mental filter of a 12-year-old. He has filthy humour and is mildly cynical. But really, he's quite innocent and childlike.

"Guy is also a bit like a child. When he walks into a tremendously inappropriate moment, anything can happen. So, I see these two as being a bit closer, having more in common, especially when Guy decides to stop being a pacifist and takes power back."

British actress Jodie Comer, 28, plays Millie, a player with the handle Molotov Girl. She is known for playing Russian assassin Villanelle in the acclaimed black comedy series Killing Eve (2018 to present), for which she has won the Best Leading Actress prize at the British Academy Television Awards, among others.


Still from the film Free Guy starring Ryan Reynolds and Jodie Comer. PHOTO: THE WALT DISNEY COMPANY

Speaking at a separate online conference, Comer notes that Killing Eve prepared her for the role of Millie, but not in the way most would think. Molotov Girl might be a woman of action just as Villanelle is, but their approaches could not be more different.

"The thing about Villanelle is that people think it's a physical role, but it isn't. Villanelle figures out a way to get close to her target, then she does something sophisticated to get the job done and to escape. It's action, but it's a different sort of action from how Molotov Girl does it," she says.

Not only did she have to train to get into shape for the action in Free Guy, but she also had to play an object of adulation for Guy. When he first sees her, he admires her as she walks past looking glamorous.

Comer says she needed to overcome her fear of looking silly instead of sexy and director Shawn Levy(Night At The Museum film series, 2006 to 2014) helped break down her psychological barrier with music.

"I'm not very cool in real life, so to be a dream girl, I had to walk across the road, which I knew was going to be shown in slow motion. This camera was behind me, following me and making me cringe so hard," she recalls.

"But Shawn, whenever I had those moments, would get a speaker on set and blast Beyonce, which actually really helped. It helped me lean into it."

Free Guy opens in cinemas on Thursday (Aug 12).