Free Guy (2021)
Film: Ryan Reynolds is just a loveable hunk, right?
Whether or not he’s a good actor or not doesn’t matter, because basically he has mostly just played that loveable goofball, who has the heart of a hero. Whether it’s the guy from Deadpool, or the guy from Green Lantern, or the guy from Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Shop, or in this film where he plays Guy, Reynolds has made a profession of being the world’s big brother, funny uncle and cool cousin all at once.
Now imagine if you could take Reynolds and stick him in a video game that is a mixture of Fortnite, Grand Theft Auto and The Sims, and mix it with movies like The Truman Show and Ready Player One, but make it palatable for anyone (mainly due to Reynolds charm, but also due to co-stars Taika Waititi’s comedy stylings, Jody Comer’s heroic violence, and maybe just a touch of teen heart-throb Joe Keery’s disarming inherent magnetism), and Free Guy is exactly what you’ve got.
Free Guy tells of Guy (Reynolds), a middle aged bank teller living in Free City, who longs to feel love. He’s generally happy with his life, tolerating the constant violence from the ‘sunglasses people’, who are ‘heroes’ who’s work he admires, even when they are robbing his bank or murdering his friends.
The beautiful thing about Free City is no matter what happens, everyone comes back… because Guy is an NPC in a video game, and in video games, everyone gets a respawn, even the ‘sunglasses people’, who in reality, are players in our world.
The problem is, Guy doesn’t know he’s a video game character, and one day he sees the girl of his dreams, but molotovgirl (Comer) isn’t a computer game character, she’s one of us, but not just one of us, she’s a game programmer named Millie, who along with her programming partner, Keys (Keery) have had the code for a game they produced stolen by evil game designer Antwon (Waititi).
Millie has been regularly raiding the game to try and find evidence of this, but doing it solo. Guy manages to get his hands on a pair of sunglasses and finds that they reveal all the ‘gamification’ of the city, like power ups and missions, and very quickly he starts to level up to try and impress molotovgirl.
At first, Guy becomes an internet sensation with his heroic actions, but very soon Antwon decides it time to shut him down, because the ‘player’ shouldn’t be more important than the game, and with a sequel to his game on the rise, maybe it’s time to shut the old one down anyway…
It’s a massively fun movie, with both big laughs and a fair bit of warmth to it as well. It’s sardonic sideways look at the video game industry is a little scathing too, especially that of Antwon, who is clearly riffing on the douchebaggy Twitch streamer-types who seem to have the most popularity.
Having said that, the idea of a games developer being able to find their code by playing a game seems to be something that’s not real (I’m no games programmer so I can’t be sure) so there is a sense of disbelief required to enjoy this film.
The cast are perfect in their roles and play off each other wonderfully. There’s some surprises in here too, with several actual streamers turning up, like Pokimane and DanTDM, amongst others, and there is one special Marvel cameo towards the end that initially stuck out the the proverbial for me, but I grew to love.
The effects in this movie are excellent too. Free City feels like an established game with a huge population, with some people being really good at it, and the occasional filthy casual (which is essentially me online) just sucking. The effects of the world when one is wearing the glasses is probably over gamified, but it clearly is holding your hand so you can tell the difference between the NPCs and the players impression of the world. At times it feels like it might be a scathing look at the online committee of
All in all, Free Guy definitely deserves a watch if you like video games and want a laugh, or if you love the Reynolds or Waititi doing their things.
Extras: There aren’t any extras on the 4K disc, but thankfully the regular Bluray is included so the extras off that are present!
Deleted/ Extended Scenes as usual, the film doesn’t suffer for these scenes not being in the film, but I did like seeing director Levy as ‘Hot Nuts’ in a scene where his character is randomly killed by a player.
Gag Reel – somewhere along the lines, gag reels either got less funny or I lost part of ,y sense of humour, either way, there’s a couple of bits that will raise a smile, but no big guffaws, I’m afraid.
Dude vs Guy looks behind the scenes at the effects and choreography of the fantastic final battle between our hero, Guy versing the arch-nemesis that he didn’t even know he had, Dude, a muscular, half-programmed video game character who looks like the sexy, body-builder version of himself. Fascinating.
Creating Molotov Girl looks at the performance and creation of the two characters Jodie Comer creates, Molotov Girl in the game, and Millie, the real world character. Not just Comer’s performance, actually, but also character and costume and how they all create the persona in a film. There might be a little bit of a look at the psyche of gamers and how they become the perfect version of themselves, or a completely different version of themselves in video games.
It’s Taika’s World looks at the creation of Taika Waititi’s character, game designer, and evil villain, Antwan. For me this was the most fun I’ve ever had watching him act, as his performance of that douchebaggy successful nerd type is absolutely hilarious, and seeing where it came from here is amazing.
Welcome to Free City is an overview of what the film is about, the themes and the general production. It’s a typical hype thing but still quite engaging.
There’s also three trailers.
WISIA: This film has become one of my favourite, as a sci-fi, a comedy and as a video game inspired film, but I’m not sure how rewatchable it may be. I’ve watched it twice and feel like I don’t need to do it again. Time will tell, I guess.
This review was performed with the Australian 4K release of the film.