Quick Reviews: 'Free Guy', 'Halloween Kills' | Ryan Reynolds, Michael Myers Vs. Laurie Strode Again
Time to put your glasses on and be one of the cool ones in Free City, the setting for action comedy Free Guy, directed by Shawn Levy and penned by Matt Lieberman and Zak Penn. Ryan Reynolds stars as titular Guy, a NPC in a multiplayer video game, who begins to break out from the established code to form consciousness after an encounter with avatar named ''Molotov Girl''. She is being played in real life by Millie (Jodie Comer in both parts), a video game developer who is suing the game company and its CEO Antwan (Taika Waititi) as she's suspecting that he stole coding from her and her partner Keys (Joe Keery) who's now working for Antwan. A sequel launch is threatening to erase Guy who's now proof for that stolen code so Millie and Keys team up with him in the game to bring the evidence to light.
Films about video games or adaptations of them tend to have stronger premises than with other mediums or source materials but often the hurdle is whether you can match that with character depth, acting and technical skill to have a compelling story. Free Guy doesn't really run into those problems as the VFX work overtime to build Free City to something that characters can interact with, action scenes look decent and most of the cast is committed from start to end. Comer especially pops in her two roles by showing her emotional range as Millie while hitting comedically as Molotov Girl, pretty much stealing Reynolds' thunder who more or less is doing the same that he's done for last five years. Shift from a NPC to a reacting person in the game gave a chance for him to break out from his schtick in the second half but that opportunity isn't really used.
There's a much more interesting thing going on with Comie and Keery's characters, much because the actors themselves works incredibly well together, and there's a conclusion that does take an advantage of that. Rest of the movie moves along in great spirit but you do slightly wish that it was a bit more confident in its own story because IP and cameos, which it tries to comment on with Antwan's character, do actually play a big part in the end so it seems like the easiest choice was made there instead of trusting your own creation.
Smileys: Jodie Comer
Frowneys: Nothing too bad
Michael Myers' reign of terror continues in Halloween Kills, a sequel to 1978 and 2018 'Halloween' movies, David Gordon Green returning as a director and also for the screenplay alongside Scott Teems and Danny McBride. Picking up pretty much seconds after last shot of the 2018 film, Myers a.k.a. The Shape (James Jude Courtney and Nick Castle) emerges from the flames to leave a trail of blood behind him as he begins to make his way to his childhood home in the suburbs of Haddonfield. Injured Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis), her daughter Karen (Judy Greer), granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak) and a mob of town residents, which includes other survivors from the 1978 attacks, start to track down Michael in order to stop him.
Your suspension of disbelief may very well get emptied in the first killing rampage and that's expected because we need a movie with the killer after all, thing is just that the script is running with that energy from there on until the very end. Dialogue gets repetitive very quickly (''Evil dies tonight!'') and all the characters keep shouting directions to the viewer in every turn, stemming very much from poor character work overall where no one has a past other than learning about Michael. Biggest problem with the writing is that no action has consequences, not a single sound is a mistake and not a single character seems to do one smart thing whether they are in a mob or by themselves; those things remove all the horror and tension in scenes.
Some of the decent work is shown with flashbacks to events of 1978 and a chase sequence featuring a park and woods which features neat sound editing and static terror that Michael holds. That moment just happens to be pretty much the only one since Green's direction of actors isn't setting a mood which the genre screams for. Ways that characters and actors move are simply there to lead into the next blood-fest so scenes never have a flow to them, there are just objects to be moved around instead of people reacting to the story. Green's lack of sensibility makes few terrible performances come to light, like Robert Longstreet as Lonnie Elam and Anthony Michael Hall as Tommy Doyle, both characters being from the original 'Halloween'.
Smileys: Flashbacks and the chase in the woods
Frowneys: Directing, screenplay, characterisation, Robert Longstreet