It has been dubbed as ‘The Surprise of the Summer’ – and to be fair it’s hard to argue with that moniker.
This zany family actioner has literally come from nowhere to take it up a ‘notch’ after a run of ‘middling’ blockbusters – and is colourfully eclectic fun from start to finish.
Alongside the ‘very relevant’ subject material, it’s the superb casting that proves to be the real winner, with Ryan ‘Deadpool’ Reynolds comedic nuances once again coming to the fore – this time with a more subtle 12A tone.
But it’s his able support that gives Reynolds his ‘wings’, with (particularly) Killing Eve’s Jodie Comer, Stranger Things’ Joe Keery and Get Out star Lil Rel Howery all proving to be characters that the audience will care about. Even Thor: Ragnorak director/actor Taika Waititi deserves a mention from upping his role from his usual comedic cameos – to an exuberantly-eccentric expanded turn as the villain of the piece.
Reynolds stars as Guy, a gleefully well-mannered bank teller in Free City, who starts every day in a positive manner among the Grand Theft Auto-type violent world.
But he’s oblivious to the fact that he’s a non-playable character in an open-world video game developed by Soonami Games founder Antwan (Waititi) – who stole the idea from best friends Walter ‘Keys’ McKey (Keery) and Millie Rusk (Comer).
Millie is just one of millions of avatars in the game – going by the name of (the kick-ass) Molotov Girl – and when Guy comes across her in this universe, it stirs something inside him to make changes to his ‘normal’ existence, as she looks for any details to reveal that her (and Keys’) code has been illegally used by Antwan.
This ignites a fire in Guy’s belly, as he teams up with Molotov, to try and help her locate this hidden agenda that will reveal Antwan’s deception, and in the process becomes a ‘new kind’ of hero – that makes him a social media sensation.
In between the movie revels in Reynolds and Comer’s electric chemistry – with plenty of action set-pieces, noteworthy humour and heartwarming camaraderie – as this pieces together nicely into a near-perfect family adventure.
It does borrow a little from the likes of the acclaimed Ready Player One and the far-inferior Pixels – but Date Night director Shawn Levy does a top-notch job to make it feel fresh and breezy throughout.
And come the film’s end credits it’ll leave you with such a broad grin across your face that you’ll be scrambling to see which Mariah Carey tunes have ‘accidentally’ ended up in your music library for the journey home...
ESP Rating: 4/5
Showcase Cinema De Lux Peterborough, Out Now
Cast: Ryan Reynolds, Jodie Comer, Joe Keery, Lil Rel Howery, Taika Waititi, Utkarsh Ambudkar, Channing Tatum & Alex Trebek
Running Time: 1 Hr 55 Mins
Director: Shawn Levy
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