Free Guy, the Ryan Reynolds-starring comedy, finally hit theatres on August 13, 2021, after a year-long delay due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In the film, Guy (played by Reynolds) is an NPC – or Non-Playable Character – in a video game called “Free City.” The addition of a program by the publisher allows Guy to become self-aware and step up into the role of hero.
Though the premise is quite out there, it seems right on the money for someone with a career as varied and eclectic as Reynolds has been. Here are our top ten highlights from the filmography of one of Canada’s favorites.
10 Ryan Reynolds Films and Where to Stream Them
Years before his debut as Deadpool (and even longer before he made his more beloved second debut as the foul-mouthed antihero), Reynolds was already dipping a toe in the Marvel pool with his role as vampire hunter Hannibal King in the final installment of the Blade films, Blade: Trinity.
Though the film was not well-received, it’s still worth a watch for anyone eager to discover Ryan Reynolds’ true Marvel origins. Streaming on Hulu in the US, Netflix in Canada, Prime Video in both.
OK, hear me out. Is DC’s Green Lantern, the story of a test pilot-turned-superhero, the greatest movie?
No. But it is the movie where Ryan Reynolds met his now-wife Blake Lively, kicking off an absolutely adorable #CoupleGoals relationship. For that alone, it deserves a place on this list because I’m a sucker for a good love story.
Even if the off-camera love story is far better than the on-camera one. Streaming on Prime Video in the US and Canada, Netflix in Canada.
Woman in Gold
Perhaps it is an odd choice to include Woman in Gold in a summary of Ryan Reynolds’ career highlights, but it definitely warrants mention. Reynolds holds his own against no less a person than Dame Helen Mirren herself while also keeping pace with his more drama-inclined peers like German heartthrob Daniel Brühl.
Beyond that, it’s nice to see an action-heavy actor show his range and choose to do a thoughtful, character-driven pseudo-historical drama. Streaming on Prime Video in the US and Canada, Netflix in Canada.
One of Reynold’s more family-friendly outings, The Croods is an animated film about a cave family and their first encounters with “modern” technology and the changing times. Reynolds plays the eccentric outsider named Guy, and though the character shares a name with who he plays in Free Guy, the similarities end there.
The Croods is ultimately a warm, fuzzy tale about the importance of family and the acknowledgment of tradition while still looking ahead to the promise of tomorrow and all it can bring. A rather sincere entry in Reynolds filmography. Streaming on Prime Video and Apple TV.
As a cursory glance at this list will tell you, Ryan Reynolds excels at comedy and has a flair for action. The two skills intersect perfectly in The Hitman’s Bodyguard, where Reynolds plays Michael Bryce, the bodyguard to…well, a hitman named Darius, played by Samuel L. Jackson (a master of threading the needle between hysterical and terrifying).
The film also features Salma Hayek as Darius’ wife, Sonia, rounding out this powerhouse trio. Streaming on Netflix.
After a disappointing first outing as the “Merc with a Mouth” in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, the self-titled Deadpool finally gave Reynolds the freedom to play the character the way he saw fit. The film is equal parts superhero origin story, meta-textual commentary, and unexpectedly sincere love story.
It really is that last point that sells it for me. Through all the crass humor and over-the-top violence, it’s really Wade Wilson’s love for Vanessa that is the catalyst that drives the plot, proving that romance and other genres are not – and should not be – mutually exclusive. Streaming on Netflix in the US and Disney+ Star in Canada.
School of Life
Much like the small town in which the film is set, School of Life is a quieter, less obvious entry on this list, but still one worth the watch. Reynolds plays Mr. D, the kind of down-to-Earth, beloved, in-touch history teacher we only see in movies.
Though it lacks the same flash and all-star cast as other entries on this list, it’s still worth a watch for how overwhelmingly quotable it is. Who can resist lines like “We’re gonna combine the two words. His and her story.” Streaming on Prime Video.
Pokémon: Detective Pikachu
If you’re at or above a certain age, then you are very familiar with Pokémon. And although Pokémon: Detective Pikachu was far from their first outing on the big screen, it was the first time audiences saw the creatures in a live-action environment.
Voicing the titular electric Pokémon detective alongside Justice Smith’s Tim Goodman, Reynolds brings his signature dry humor and delivery that really grounds the fantastical concept into its gritty environment. Streaming on Prime Video in the US and Canada, Netflix in Canada.
How, you may ask, did the sequel beat out the original? One simple reason. Though I was initially unimpressed that Deadpool 2 fridged Vanessa to serve as the tipping point into adventure this time around, by the end of the movie, I’d completely come around.
Through a combination of a time travel device, Josh Brolin at his sexiest, and a complete disregard for logic, the mid-credits scene sees Deadpool traveling back in time to undo the fridging. Granted, the rest of the film is just as crude, gory, and sweetly sincere as the first entry in the series, but it’s the acknowledgment and reversal of one of my most hated tropes that puts it over the top. Streaming on Prime Video in the US and Disney+ Star in Canada
The Proposal, the story of an assistant who plays a reluctant fiancé to his Canadian boss to help her keep her work visa, is truly Ryan Reynolds’ finest work. It showcases the importance of having a charming and charismatic lead as the love interest in a rom-com – something more of these big-budget action stars really should consider. Reynolds has actual, honest-to-goodness chemistry with his co-star, played by the incomparable Sandra Bullock.
Most importantly, the movie is so many delightful romance tropes crammed into one Alaskan-shaped package: fake dating, marriage (ok fine, engagement) of convenience, small towns, “there was only one bed.” A romance novel lover’s dream, in cinematic form. Top that off with an outstanding, solid supporting cast which includes the internet’s grandmother Betty White, and the result is perfection. Streaming on Peacock.