Free Guy Review: The Video Game Movie We Deserve
It’s already been a pretty good year for video game movies, thanks to the release of Mortal Kombat in April, which brought the iconic franchise to bloody life – hopefully kicking off a new series of films. Free Guy is a different genre of movie from video game, however. While it’s clearly influenced by open-world games like Grand Theft Auto V and the game world itself, it’s not an adaptation of a popular title.
Instead, Free Guy uses video game settings and tropes to tell an original story about someone finding their own power after a life of helplessness. It also happens to be very funny, packed with some downright ridiculous action, and has a ton of great performances, including one that is truly iconic.
The story follows Guy (Ryan Reynolds), a bank clerk who doesn’t realize he’s nothing more than a non-player character (NPC) in a GTA-like game called Free City. He has a perfect NPC life, totally oblivious to the masses of human gamers committing heinous acts around him, until he comes into possession of a pair of gamer sunglasses that show him all that is happening. actually goes into his world. After seeing what is really going on, he sets off on a journey to become a hero himself, running to save his world before the game developers shut down Free City.
It’s no surprise that Reynolds shines in this role. As a hilarious guy, his naivety throughout the film is wonderfully charming, even as he finds out how powerful he can be (and how ridiculous the things you can do in Free City are). That he could ride a motorbike out the window of a mountain-top resort and soar off the side of that mountain, only to be dazzled by something as simple as bubble gum ice cream. , that’s Guy in a nutshell. He is capable of incredible things and is perfectly satisfied with the standard.
In contrast is easily the best performance of the film. Thor: Love and Thunder director Taika Waititi steps in front of the camera as the film’s villain, game developer Antwan. He wears expensive and ridiculous clothes, speaks almost exclusively in gibberish slang, is horribly mean to all of his employees, and considers himself the greatest gaming genius ever to be known. While Antwan is so easy to hate, the chaotic energy that Waititi infuses into the role makes it hard to look away because you just know he’s about to make a fool of himself, all over again.
While they don’t technically exist together – Guy in the game, Antwan in the real world – the venomous hatred the game developer has for the NPC is palpable and incredibly funny as he spins more and more out of the way. the more guy control becomes powerful.
Jodie Comer, as programmer Millie and her Free City avatar, Molotov Girl, is also a fantastic addition to the film. As Millie, she desperately tries to right a wrong, while changing the future of video games. As a Molotov girl, however, she becomes not only Guy’s most trusted ally, but also the person who shows him the ropes of the game in her own world. The two are a formidable team as they try not only to save the world of Free City, but also to stop Antwan’s interference outside of the game.
The supporting actors do more than their fair share, especially Lil Rel Howery as Buddy, Guy’s NPC and best friend. Beyond making their mundane life hilarious to watch, Buddy is a surprisingly emotional component of the story. Unlike Guy, he was happy with their life as it was. As his best friend continues on his action hero journey, his programming does not allow him to fully understand and embrace the changes, which leads to some very sad moments.
Then there’s Stranger Things star Joe Keery and Utkarsh Ambudkar as game programmers Keys and Mouser, respectively. This duo are torn between working for Antwan and, honestly, seeing how horrible he is. Watching them navigate their place of work is ultimately sad, even though they are having fun messing around inside the game.
What surrounds this cast is a better video game movie than most actual video game adaptations. Free Guy really captures the quirks of the game – and he’s full of them. As the story unfolds, the backdrop is littered with people doing emotional dances, dragging and running against walls, wrapping their fallen opponents tea with tea and causing utterly ludicrous mayhem. If you’ve logged into Grand Theft Auto Online before, you should have an idea of what the shenanigans going on in the world of Free City are like and they just keep on being entertaining.
These shenanigans are also massive. The action in Free Guy rarely slows down, unless it’s for the aforementioned bubble gum ice cream. And the quieter moments we get are a good chill out time before moving on to the next gigantic play. Best of all, the action looks amazing. The visuals in the movie are terrific and wildly over the top. There is no end to the explosions, car chases and utter madness that are unleashed in Free City, yet the citizens who live there are no better off.
There’s one thing about Free Guy that’s a bit thin, though: the seemingly endless parade of actual players and streamers appearing as themselves in cameo roles. As Guy gains experience and power in the game, the real world starts to notice him, and all of a sudden you see faces like Ninja and LazarBeam talking about it on their streams. If it had happened once or twice, it would have worked much better. As the movie progresses, it happens enough to become a distraction. It ends up feeling like a lesser version of The Truman Show climax.
Overall, Free Guy tells the inspiring story of someone trying to figure out who he really is in a world he feels removed from. As it turns out, this story is disguised as a very entertaining blockbuster action movie set in the world of a video game. The cast is fantastic, the action is better than you could have hoped for, and in the end, there’s a good chance you’ll be dying to know when the next episode is. While the streamers’ cameos stand out like a sore thumb, they can’t reverse how enjoyable this movie is and will continue to be upon replay.