Free Guy (2021) is a movie about a bank teller named Guy (played by Ryan Reynolds) living an ordinary and repetitive life in a world called the Free World. Little does he know, however, he
is actually a non-playable character (NPC), living inside a video game that was created by a game developer company called Soonami Studio. After doing some serious soul searching during a bank heist, Guy realises that what his life is missing is love and surprisingly enough, after leaving from work that day he bumps into a player character called Molotovgirl, and the real story begins.
I have to say, that at first I was quite unsure about the plot of Free Guy, since I didn’t understand it completely. I was under the impression that Guy was a player character, which confused me quite a bit, but I explained it to myself as him just intensively roleplaying his character. I caught the plot of him being an NPC quite fast though, and after that everything made so much more sense.
The plot of Free Guy is a mix of real world shenaningans and in-game mayhem, which I enjoyed a lot. The movie makes mockery of the big corporations stealing ideas and elements from smaller developers, and then just turning the ideas into money machines. The head of Soonami Studio (who is played by the amazing Taika Waititi, by the way) doesn’t care about the players, the bugs in the game or the server issues; all he wants is money. He doesn’t know his employees and commands them around expecting no resistance. The only person who we see questioning the ethics of the whole company is a character called Keys, who was working on a smaller project involving NPC’s and autonomy before transferring into Soonami Studio. The references Free Guy makes to nerd and video game culture are absolutely hilarious, mostly because they are so accurate. The players in Free World always wear sunglasses, since it kind of works as a way to see their User Interface (UI). When Guy realises that sunglasses in Free World are an item that distinguishes the player from an NPC, he can see the world in a completely different light. As he explores this “new” world, we can see the player characters doing the most absurd stuff in the background. For example, one of the players first shoots another character, and then proceeds to teabag him in the face. Another one constantly jumps while moving forward. These small moments in Free Guy are those things that made me burst out laughing, because they reflect the same exact things that happens in our real-life video games as well. Once in a while you also see behind the players’ avatars, and you can see that the avatars more often than not do not resemble the avatar; the toughest, burliest looking character is actually just a small child, playing with her friend.
I’d say the story of Free Guy is a classic story of the rich abusing their power and stealing from the poor, but it is masked beautifully into this amazing and absurd world of video games. Even though the subject is heavy in a sense, the movie itself doesn’t feel heavy at all; quite the opposite actually. The world is also aesthetically pleasing to look at, and it really feels like something of a video game. The NPC’s behave like an NPC, repeating the same phrases and actions over and over again. What I kind of missed, though, was the bugs and erratic behaviour of the NPC’s. For example, it would have been fun to see an NPC walking towards a wall or getting stuck on a lamp post.
Even though Free Guy is great fun for a video game enthusiast and a fan of nerd culture, the movie left me wondering if people outside of that culture would enjoy the movie as much as I personally did. Like mentioned already, the movie includes a lot of references from the depths of 4chan to the weapons of Fortnite; hell, we even see Chris Evans reacting to Guy using Captain America’s shield to his protection, while the theme of Avengers plays in the background. It is so awesome for someone who is familiar with all of the small remarks, but if you do not understand the references, will you enjoy the movie? My initial response to that would be yes, since overall, it is a fun movie. Will it be as fun of a movie though? Probably not. The references make the movie so much more enjoyable, even if they are just small things (like an N7 sticker on a laptop). It just tickles the fancy of a gamer in a special way, and there’s no way of going around that.
So, watch Free Guy. It has everything that anyone could want from a movie: good jokes, explosions, action, Channing Tatum…You get the deal. It is a great movie to watch for example with friends when you don’t want to watch anything super deep that will just mess up your brain and make you question your existence. Word of advice, though, it might make you question the existence of NPC’s. Just saying.
Title: Free Guy
Director: Shawn Levy
Genre: Action, Adventure, Comedy
Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Jodie Comer, Lil Rel Howery, Utkarsh Ambudkar, Joe Keery, Taika Waititi
Pictures taken from the official website: https://www.20thcenturystudios.com/movies/free-guy