When the trailer for Free Guy dropped, I wasn’t entirely sure how this would all turn out. Video game movies (even just movies about video games) haven’t always turned out well, to put it mildly. The most recent film that comes to mind is Ready Player One (2018), a film so generic that even a cameo from the Iron Giant couldn’t make it interesting.
In fact, I think Tron Legacy (2010) was the last movie with this kind of premise that I actually enjoyed. And that probably just because I was obsessed with Olivia Wilde and her incredible hair cut.
But Free Guy, even just from the trailers, promised to be something special; it had a great story hook, it had fun looking effects, it had a wicked sense of humor!
It had Ryan Reynolds; I needed to see this movie. And I’m so glad I did.
Mix equal parts The Lego Movie with The Truman Show, add a dash of The Matrix, and the smallest pinch of Ready Player One and you have Free Guy.
IMBD Score: 7.3/10
When a bank teller discovers he’s actually a background player in an open-world video game, he decides to become the hero of his own story — one that he can rewrite himself. In a world where there’s no limits, he’s determined to save the day his way before it’s too late, and maybe find a little romance with the coder who conceived him.
Pretty much everything you need to know about this movie can be summed up by the goofy, stupid charm of the lead character. If you enjoy Ryan Reynolds playing… well, Ryan Reynolds, then you will definitely enjoy this movie, as he’s basically playing Deadpool if Deadpool had never been allowed to touch guns or explosives, and instead worked nine-to-five at the world’s most robbable bank.
Guy (yup, that’s his name) is an idiot, but he’s also the heart of the whole film; someone who always looks for the good in the world, even as an NPC under the constant threat of death by overly-intense gamers and unrealistic explosions.
That kind of unrelenting optimism can definitely be annoying, but with Guy, it works. He’s so endlessly hopeful and determined that you can’t help but root for him, even as he’s getting beaten down and forced to start over. It helps that he’s an NPC, of course, but seeing him shake himself off and try again and again and again was pretty inspiring.
All of the characters in-game are fantastic in the same kind way: an odd combination of hopeful and rebellious all at once. The NPC’s evolution through the story really helps the plot get through the more bland events happening in the ‘real’ world.
In fact, the real world is probably the movie’s weakest point: the story here is bland compared to the insanity of the game world. And yet, the ‘real’ world somehow also features some of the most ridiculous, most confusing elements of the entire film. I can get behind the premise of an NPC coming to life, but there were moments that managed to throw off even my suspension of disbelief, and I can suspend it pretty darn far. And again, this was when they were supposed to be outside of the game.
But I think in the end, it still works. The absurdity can definitely be too much at times, but there’s also the sense that it’s all put together to build up the message of the story. There’s this subtle sense that all the over-the-top scenes, the surprising (and hilarious) cameos, and the often total disregard for how things actually work in the real world is all working together. The result is a movie that managed to deeply touch me with it’s message; something I never thought I’d say about about a film with this many explosions..
Free Guy is an entertaining, and surprisingly clever, movie from start to finish, managing to give some real weight to its message without sacrificing a minute of the ridiculous, insanity filled fun that this setting both promises and delivers. It’s the kind of fun, absurd film that never takes itself too seriously, and still delivers a story with a lot of heart, and a lot of hope. And I think we could all use a little more of that in our lives right now.
Thanks for reading everyone! I hope everyone can enjoy these detours as much as I do. There are a thousand different ways to tell a story and while I will never get tired of reading (ever), movies and shows provide some amazing moments of storytelling, and allow us to explore things in dramatically different ways than a written narrative.
And if I can get through a few of them in less than two hours, I’ll be able to breeze through a bunch of reviews in no time, which is good news for lazy me.
Thanks again, and please leave a comment below if you liked this or if there’s a movie or show you think I should check out next.
All images © Walt Disney Pictures