Video games have come a long way as we go from classic platformers to open-world games, which is where the film Free Guy takes place. Video game adaptations can get a bad wrap in Hollywood, but a movie about a fictional one can be something that people can invest in, especially if they get all the references from the world of video games and streaming.
In Free Guy, an NPC named Guy (Ryan Reynolds) lives inside an online video game world called Free City. We see the daily routines that take place within the game through the eyes of Guy. Guy’s world suddenly changes once he discovers that he is basically a character inside a video game. Once he makes that discovery, he feels like there’s more to life than being just a video game character. The film also introduces us to Millie (Jodie Comer), a former video game developer who plays the game under the alias Molotov Girl in order to expose the game’s secrets. What she is unaware of is that a program that she and her former partner Keys (Joe Keery) have created has made Guy self-aware of who he is. After devilish developer Antoine (Taika Waititi) makes this discovery, he will stop at nothing to shut down the game. What transpires is a story of how Guy takes the necessary steps to become a hero and save his world from being shut down forever.
What really makes this film great is the video game world that it takes place in. Similar to how The Lego Movie gave us a world where the Legos are characters, the same goes for Free City where every NPC is its own character. The world of Free City is one that functions like a normal city, with a major difference that it’s inhabited by explosions, robberies, and guns blazing like a GTA game. The visual effects of this world make it look like an actual video game. What helps is that we do get some nods to some major titles like Fornite and PUBG.
The charismatic Ryan Reynolds shines as Guy, the bank teller in the game who wants to come out of his comfort zone and be more than just an NPC. Reynolds’ onscreen partner Jodie Comer showcases two sides of her character: an incredibly gifted programmer who wants to show the world what she’s capable of, and her kickass video game alter-ego Molotov Girl. Both Joe Keery and Utkarsh Ambudkar do send off some buddy cop vibes playing programmers Keys and Mouser who work under Taika Waititi’s villainous character Antoine, We also get some amazing comedic chops from Lil Rel Howery as Guy’s best friend Buddy who tries to understand the situation that Guy just puts himself in.
Despite this being in the world of video games, non-gamers can get a kick out of Free Guy due to how lighthearted and fun the film really is. There are also a couple of high-profile cameos that a couple of gamers may recognize with big Twitch streamers like Pokimane, Ninja, and Jacksepticeye. Gamers will certainly get a kick out of how much detail was given to the gaming world as a whole. There’s also a couple of big profile actors who also get some spots like Dwayne Johnson, Hugh Jackman, John Krasinski, and Tina Fey to name a few. Director Shawn Levy puts out his best work forward thanks to the visuals and the comedic vibes that Free Guy brings.
Free Guy can be over-the-top, but it truly is a crowd-pleaser that’s full of gaming references and some zany characters. Gamers can appreciate the easter eggs as this movie can be sort of a love letter to the video game community as a whole. It is a big-budget adventure that can be satirical, but its heartwarming message of self-discovery does bring the film together. The film’s cast truly brings the world of Free Guy alive with great performances all around. This might actually be where Hollywood gets it right when it comes to adapting the video game genre.