Originally published on Sumner Newscow on September 10, 2021
Happy Friday. As a former lifeguard at the Wellington Family Aquatic Center, I’m no stranger to taking a summer job for the money.
Was lifeguarding my passion in life or something I wanted to pursue after my teenage years? Not a chance. Sometimes you just need some money in your pocket. That’s something I didn’t expect to have in common with two of the biggest names in Hollywood: Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson.
The pair are two (very) prolific actors, which means they’ll always have a job if they want it…but it also means they’re prone to put out some flops. And after watching their summer “blockbusters,” it’s pretty clear that these guys just needed some beer money.
Free Guy, a movie shown at the Wellington Regent these past two weeks, is Ryan Reynolds’ new hit that’s exceptional in its mediocrity but has somehow grossed nearly $250 million.
The plot follows Reynolds as a non-playable character that gains sentience in a Grand Theft Auto-type video game. That’s a fairly interesting premise on its own. But the writers went to extraordinary lengths to ensure Reynolds didn’t understand that.
Reynolds’ character, named Guy, suddenly sees health packs, weapon drops, and various other impossible objects, but doesn’t understand his situation for over an hour of this painstakingly two-hour-long film. The effect is that Guy seems utterly stupid, but somehow the best video game player of all time (so much so that they talk about him on the news in the real world).
I’ll forgive most of any movie’s sins if they at least made me laugh. Too bad this movie couldn’t accomplish that either.
Free Guy is just a vehicle for Ryan Reynolds’ Deadpool character without the R rating, which didn’t translate well to PG-13. The fun thing about Deadpool is that he’s over the top in his vulgarity while laying out a decent plot.
So, if you sacrifice the plot for Deadpool and take away the vulgarity, you’re left with some stale jokes that don’t cover up for the fact that none of the movie makes sense.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s some solid humor sprinkled through the film (and a fun cameo from Taika Watiti), but it wasn’t worth the price of admission. Congratulations to Ryan for his hefty payday, though.
The Protégé seemingly came out of nowhere, which isn’t a good sign for a summer action-thrillér (sorry I wanted to use the French é again). I never saw a trailer in any of the previous movies I’ve seen since theatres opened back up, which was surprising for a movie starring Sam Jackson and Michael Keaton.
After watching it, it was clear why they didn’t promote it very hard.
The Protégé follows Maggie Q as Anna, an assassin with a mysterious past brought up by professional hitman, Sam Jackson. For her part, Maggie Q was a great choice for the role and her performance was the only thing propping up a deadly plot.
When Samuel Jackson looks for one of his previous victim’s sons to apologize for murdering his father (unclear how he was going to phrase that), Michael Keaton is forced to take out everyone involved. From there, the plot unfolds in such a confusing way that the filmmakers could’ve told it backwards like Momento (2000), and it would’ve made just as much sense.
I can call this movie bad and uninspired (which I do), but one thing I can’t call it is boring.
If you don’t care about the plot or any of the characters’ motivations, this is a pretty exciting shoot-em-up thriller. Maggie Q excels at fight choreography and Michael Keaton resurrected his action moves from his Batman days.
To top is all off: Samuel L. Jackson.
You know what you’re getting from Sam. He’s going to bring some levity and humor with a healthy dose of his catchphrase, motherf***er. Like Free Guy, this isn’t a very inspired movie, but I’m sure Jackson was compensated enough not to care.
The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard
Neither Free Guy nor the Protégé could match the frivolity of the Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard.
Even the name is lazy. It’s the sequel to 2017’s the Hitman’s Bodyguard that earned a cool 43% on Rotten Tomatoes. The original wasn’t too bad, but it certainly wasn’t too good either.
At the most, it was a fun buddy cop movie without the copaganda that gave Ryan Reynolds and Sam Jackson the opportunity to show off their chemistry. The flimsy dramatic tension was all but abandoned in the last 15 minutes and everyone forgot that Reynolds attempted a blaccent for one of his monologues.
The sequel has even less of a plot going for it but does have some clever gags like making Morgan Freeman, Reynolds’ character’s father.
The best thing about this movie is that Salma Hayek took a more active role in both the plot as well as the production. She’s a brilliant comedic actor and although the film didn’t even approach feminism, it was still nice to see.
Bottom line: should you see this movie? Absolutely not. But if it’s freely available and you need something to throw on in the background of a party, on the other hand, this is the movie for you.
Congratulations again to Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson on their wonderful and profitable, money grab summer.