Cinema Dispatch: Free Guy

Free Guy and all the images you see in this review are owned by 20th Century Studios

Directed by Shawn Levy

When the Pandemic started over a year ago, this was one of the movies that got pushed back to try and court a big audience once things had settled down, and sadly it seems to have waited JUST long enough to catch the brunt of the Delta variant that has people gun-shy about going back to theaters once again. Still, even when the trailers for this were coming out in the pre-pandemic work, it was not something I was looking forward to as it looked like a cash grab from Ryan Reynolds; using his post-Deadpool clout to score a HUGE payday with something that KINDA resembles his usual shtick. Then again, Reynolds isn’t a guy who takes on roles lightly, especially SINCE Deadpool, and his other big cash grab movie Detective Pikachu turned out to be one of the best video game movies ever made! Can he make lightening strike twice with this send up of the AAA Game Industry, or is the video game curse one that even Ryan Reynolds can’t overcome more than once?

Guy (Ryan Reynolds) is an NPC going about his day to day life in an online sandbox game known as Free City; basically if Grand Theft Auto 5’s online mode was smashed together with a not-so-self-aware version of the Saints Row series. Guy is no one of particular note in the game, he isn’t giving people quests or running in-app purchase storefront; instead he’s just a banker who’s daily routine involves getting stuck up by criminals multiple times a day as players complete the Bank Heist mission for XP. All of this is way over Guy’s head who along with his fellow NPCs doesn’t even know they are in a video game; they are just living their lives day to day and this is what it looks like! That is until Guy runs into a player named Molotov Girl (Jodie Comer) who seems familiar in some way and makes him start to think differently than before; so much so that he decides to take the glasses that these robbers are always wearing and discovers the user interface that’s hidden from all the NPCs. With this new world opening up to him, Guy goes after Molotov and even tries to make Free City a better place to live by stopping crime and being a Good Guy which gets him XP of his own and catches the attention of streamers out there; confused by this character (who they mistake as an actual player) trying to do GOOD things in the game. This attention however does not go unnoticed by the developers and the studio head Antwan (Taika Waititi) who is none too happy with someone trying to break their profitable game loop; especially right before the release of their sequel that will make Guy and his world obsolete. Will Guy’s quest for self-determination and heroism ultimately spell doom for himself and everything he holds dear? Who is this mysterious woman that he has fallen for, and what is her connection to the developers of the game itself? How can Ryan Reynolds be so dorky AND so cool at the same time!?

“Excelsior, Mo-Fos.”
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Cinema Dispatch: Whiskey Tango Foxtrot

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Whiskey Tango Foxtrot and all the images you see in this review are owned by Paramount Pictures

Directed by Glenn Ficarra and John Requa

Well Our Brand is Crisis didn’t do much for everyone involved, but I’m SURE it will work better when you do it with Tina Fey!  What, that’s not enough?  Okay… let’s make it war film too!!  Movies about the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan (especially comedies) are not easy endeavors for anyone to undertake, but we have gotten some good films along the way such as The Men Who Stare at Goats, The Messenger, and Brothers just to name a few.  With this being somewhat of biopic of a journalist who spent several years in the country, it definitely has an interesting premise and a good excuse to get a strong message across as it’s from the point of view of someone whose job it is to find answers and tell the world about what’s really going on.  Will this be a successful mix between a talented comedian and a topical subject, or is this a mash up that was not meant to be?  Let’s find out!!

The movie follows the story of Kim Baker (Tina Fey) who works for a news organization and volunteers to go to Afghanistan as a war correspondent as she’s found herself in a rut in her life.  When she gets to Afghanistan (Kabul specifically) she meets a colorful cast of journos, photographers, and other personal that she will be sharing a home with for the next couple of years as she slowly grows to appreciate the country for what it has to offer and starts to grow accustom to the risks and dangers of being a reporter in this environment.  Her newfound friends include a guide Fahim Ahmadza (Christopher Abbott), the only other female journalist (at least the only one we see) at the place that Kim is staying named Tanya Vanderpoel (Margot Robbie) and a Scottish photographer named Iain MacKelpie (Martin Freeman) who quickly grows attached to the new member of their little club.  Along the way, she’ll have to deal with the US military, primarily through General Hollanek (Billy Bob Thornton), and with the a high ranking official in the Afghani government Ali Massoud Sadiq (Alfred Molina) in order to get the stories she needs to keep the war relevant to the news organization she works for and to keep her from being reassigned to another desk job.  Will she be able to hack it as a journalist in this country that doesn’t look too kindly on Western intervention?  Will she find what she’s looking for in the Middle East, or will she get sucked into this world and lose touch with what’s waiting for her back home?  This isn’t going to be TOO offensive, right?

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“You know, I’m starting to get it.”     “Are you now?”     “Yeah!  I can wear Kevlar under this, or I hide a camera if I want to.  I can even drink beer without anyone seeing!”

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