zophar53's Blog

Posted on Sep 5th 2021 at 08:00:00 AM by (zophar53)
Posted under RF Cinema, Free Guy, video game movies, Ryan Reynolds


I first started seeing trailers for Free Guy last summer. The teasers showed Ryan Reynolds as a polite, happy-go-lucky bank teller in a fictional online multiplayer game called Free City. One day, after putting on a pair of sunglasses left behind by one of the players, he discovers through their augmented-reality HUD that there's so much more going on in his world than the endless daily loop he's been living. Like so many things, the global pandemic put the brakes on Free Guy's release, but it's finally in theaters. It doesn't appear to be on any streaming services yet, so let's see if the film is good enough to warrant a trip out into the real world.





I was pretty excited for this movie when I first saw the previews. Ryan Reynolds is a pretty fun actor and seems to pick roles that fit him well. Thing is, the trailers don't really give you much more to go on than the basic premise. It doesn't take long to discover that there's a lot more to this movie than Reynolds galavanting around a video game world.

Not just beautiful, but great taste in motorcycles as well!

After meeting Molotov Girl, the avatar of one of the main characters in the real world, Guy determines she is his dream girl and breaks from his programming in an effort to talk to her. Initially, when Reynolds' character (named Guy) tells her he works at the bank and asks what's going on, Molotov Girl doesn't believe him. She thinks he's some player trolling her, and upon seeing his Level 1 rating, tells him to level his character to at least 100 before talking to her. He begins a journey to do just that, but instead of doing crimes and causing mayhem like all the other players in the game, Guy stays true to his polite nature and helps people instead, stopping bad guys and the like.

In the real world, we're introduced to Millie (Molotov Girl), Walter and Mouser, who work for Free City's developer, and Antwan, the head developer of the game. Millie and Walter believe that Free City's code was stolen from a game they created several years ago. Since then, Walter has taken a job with the company while Millie spends her days as Molotov Girl, searching for the code that will prove Antwan's thievery from the inside.


Tron is not the only film from which Free Guy takes inspiration. There are elements of many properties this movie doesn't try particularly hard to hide, including Grand Theft Auto, The Matrix, The Truman Show, Wreck-It Ralph, The Lego Movie, and even Twitch streaming culture itself. Though the inspirations were obvious, I didn't particularly mind. Free Guy takes these themes and has fun with them, and as we get to know the main characters and their backstories, it gives the film its own personality and style that I appreciated.

Millie, Walter, and Mouser have continued to be close friends despite the loss of their creative goals, but it hasn't been without some tension, especially as the game's developer becomes increasingly unscrupulous. As Guy's streak of good deeds goes on and he gets more notoriety in the game world, people on the outside take notice. Twitch streamers start calling him Blue Shirt Guy, a reference to his trademark light blue dress shirt he wears even after abandoning his shifts at the bank. Meanwhile, Walter, Mouser, and the rest of the programmers are frantically trying to figure out who Blue Shirt Guy is and why he doesn't seem to be attached to a player. Eventually, Guy joins Molotov Girl in her quest to track down what she's looking for in the game, and Antwan gets increasingly more agitated. As he discovers he doesn't have control over Guy and what he and Millie are trying to do, he goes to extreme lengths to eliminate the two, regardless of the effect it will have over the game itself or its real-life player base.

It's a shame Waititi doesn't get more screen time, but it's probably for the best, as he kind of takes over every scene he's in as Antwan

I really was surprised by where Free Guy goes. The performances are fun, even hilarious at times, with Antwan being particularly noteworthy. Taika Waititi puts in a lively performance as the stereotypically eccentric programming genius. I wasn't expecting as much real world as it has, but while it brushes up against themes like existentialism, corporate greed, and Phillip K. Dick-style artificial intelligence, it never does so to the point where it gets heavy or bogs down the story. For those familiar with online gaming culture, it's accurate enough without being prescient about it and plays fast and loose enough in that regard that it doesn't require much gaming knowledge to enjoy.

Visually, it keeps the tone fun as well. Given that half of the movie takes place in a video game, there are some great action scene moments, with all the flair you would expect from a setting where physics is more of a guideline than an inescapable law of nature. And it could just be me, but by the third act it seemed as if the visual filter in the in-game scenes looked slightly unreal, as if to subconsciously differentiate them from the scenes in the real world.

Buddy is a security guard at the bank, Guy's best friend, and one of the more delightful side characters in Free City

My main gripe with Free Guy is that there are a few spots where the "nice nerdy guy pursues the pretty, cool girl" thing veers into eye-roll territory. It doesn't get too bad, as Guy's interest in Molotov Girl resolves fairly well, but the trope comes back in the finale. It doesn't ruin the film, as it doesn't much affect the plot itself, but it does come across as a poorly out of touch way to end things.

Overall, I didn't have many expectations beyond what is shown in the trailers, but I came away enjoying Free Guy in a way that took me by surprise. It's thematically bigger than it lets on and is all the more interesting for it, but still keeps things light and humorous in the interest of being entertaining. There's no movie worth braving a theater for if you're at risk and/or in an area where the pandemic is back in control of things, but whenever it comes to streaming services, I definitely recommend checking out Free Guy.


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