In upside-down simulations, time loops and video online games turned within out, a rising entire body of flicks trade on the experience of living in a false reality — of being a glitch in the matrix. Virtual realities change true (“Completely ready Player Just one”), television sets peel away (“The Truman Present”), aspiration states don’t wake (“Inception”), arcade people crack totally free (“Wreck-It Ralph”).

But if any person was at any time living a lie, Absolutely free Metropolis resident and banker Male (Ryan Reynolds) is. Each and every day, he picks a blue shirt and khakis from a closet neatly ordered with them. He orders the same coffee. He even, like Truman, has a cheery goodbye: “Don’t have a great working day. Have a excellent day.”

It is the exact same thing more than and about. But from the start off, it can be noticeable a little something is incredibly considerably from ideal. Each individual working day, for instance, Guy’s financial institution is robbed at gunpoint. He and his safety guard mate, Buddy (Lil Rel Howery), calmly lie down on the floor every single time and explore their soon after-work designs. The reveal just isn’t a shocker: “Free City” is a virtual fact recreation and Male is a background character — a non-playable character or NPC. In the expansive digital universe, Guy is the cheapest of the minimal, a bit character in a violent cyber metropolis. He’s an extra who occurs to be performed by an A-lister.

“Free Dude,” which opens in theaters Aug. 13, is a intelligent if more and more familiar form of meta motion picture that delights in looking at a online video sport from the inside of and turning a background character into a hero. It really is more balanced and better than Steven Knight’s daring but off-kilter “Serenity,” with Matthew McConaughey as a fishing boat captain who turns out to be a video clip recreation protagonist. But “Free Guy” is also blandly predictable and fails to unlock the amounts its high-thought premise could have opened.

Directed by Shawn Levy from a script by Matt Lieberman (“Scoob!,” “Playing With Fire”) and Zak Penn (who co-wrote “Ready Player One”), “Free Guy” will get a important increase from Jodie Comer, who performs both equally the VR architect Millie and her in-game avatar, Molotov Girl, and proves a drive in possibly dimension. There are also gleeful, over-the-major performances by Taiki Waititi as the game’s diabolical overlord, and — is that actually him? — the long-dormant Channing Tatum, a incredibly welcome sight, flashing additional serious moves than those in “Magic Mike” as an in-match avatar.

Levy, a veteran director of warm-hearted comedies (the “Night at the Museum” films, “Cheaper by the Dozen”), has a light-weight contact and he juggles the wildlife of the gaming earth — a “Grand Theft Auto”-like metropolis — as adeptly as he did that of the Natural Historical past Museum. He’s particularly deft at toggling from inside the game to outdoors it. Even though Guy, gob-smacked by Molotov Girl, grows beyond his coding, and starts to contend with the other “sunglasses people” (players) in the recreation, Millie and her former programming spouse (Newburyport native and “Stranger Matters” favorite Joe Keery) examine regardless of whether Soonami, the large gaming enterprise run by Antwan (Waititi), stole their AI structure.

But “Free Guy” does not take its principle any place particularly intriguing, settling extra for video clip sport puns and inner-studio references even though at the identical time building self-references to its very own originality. “Free Guy,” for sure, belongs to a exceptional major-finances summer months-motion picture breed given that it is really not primarily based on preceding mental residence. And the film has a large amount of fun with that. Antwan is readying a dumbed-down sequel (a “See-QUAL” as Waititi emphasizes) to “Free City” that he brags is just trading on the game’s robust IP. Yet but the end of “Free Man,” a motion picture manufactured by Fox as it was being obtained by the Walt Disney Co., “Free Guy” chokes on its very own pop-tradition references, slipping in “Star Wars” topic tunes and Captain America’s defend.

Maybe I am getting as well tricky on a primarily fun if forgettable movie. It is really come to be a form of trademark of Reynolds, also a producer right here, to make massive studio movies that really don’t choose them selves as well significantly, that delight in an keen-to-make sure you, fourth-wall-breaking schtick. “Free Guy” is just not as anarchic as “Deadpool,” but it likes winking at the digicam just as significantly.

But for a proudly “original” motion picture, “Free Guy” isn’t really truly so first. It truly is a charming concoction of clichés cribbed from other movies, from “Tron” to “Truman,” without having its have coding.

“Free Man,” a Twentieth Century Fox release, is rated PG-13 by the Motion Image Affiliation of The united states for robust fantasy violence throughout, language and crude/suggestive references.

2½ stars out of 4