Free Guy, starring Ryan Reynolds playing himself is a fun, fast paced, funny film. It’s nothing special and is held back by a few things including the film dropping the ball on the reddit concept of an NPC in a video game becoming self aware and breaking his programming.
Guy, played by Ryan Reynolds basically playing himself once again, is a non playable character or NPC. He has a monotonous routine of waking up, saying hi to his goldfish, eating cereal and watching the news as a helicopter outside explodes, mindlessly flipping the blinds on his window repeatedly, getting his favorite coffee, looking at shoes in a store window that he wants to buy, and walking to his job with his best friend and coworker to Free City Bank, where it gets robbed daily. Its a routine, a cycle without meaning.
One day, Guy sees the girl of his dreams, the only problem is that she is a player character, identified by her glasses. MolotovGirl, or Millie is a jaded veteran of the game Free City, playing the game for so long that she has memorized the background character’s preset catchphrases including Guy’s iconic “Don’t have a good day, have a great day.”
Guy makes chase but is stopped in his tracks by a convenient train on the tracks ramming into him, wherein he wakes up and decides to break his routine. This leads to him killing a player robbing the bank he works at and stealing his glasses, revealing a world once hidden from him.
Hijinks ensue with Guy being chased down by moderators that believe he’s a hacker in the game, Guy leveling up being a good guy in the game, Guy becoming a popular character among the gaming community with cameos by Jacksepticeye, Pokimaine, and Fortnite dude Ninja. Fun story right?
Well the director decided that the story wasn’t boring enough so he decided to add some dramatic flair about unlicensed code being used in Free City and the lawsuit that ties into Guy’s story in the dumbest and blandest way possible, that also rids of the entire film’s idea. Guy was programed to fall in love with Millie, without reason, only because his developer was also in love with Millie in real life.
Spoiler alert, the film takes the bland underdog approach of “small independent creator is crushed under the corporate foot” story with code from a canceled indie game about observing evolving AI is stolen and used in Free City. This is why Guy becomes independent but only after his code is activated from seeing Millie in the game. So his indepence no longer his, but is only given to him by his programming. He is obsessed with Millie, and programmed to love her no matter what. He goes back around to not having his own independence.
Its small things like Disney putting in a 2 minute fan service reminder that they own Marvel, Fox, and Star Wars, that pull me out of the film, and keep it from being more than “hey that was fun.” I’m not asking for something deep and philosophical, the idea of Free Guy is not a thinking man’s film, it’s a simple idea that could’ve been just about someone learning that there’s more to their world than meets the eye.
The boring stolen code plot is just that, boring. The bland “nice nerdy gentlemen, loves the hot nerdy girl” plot is bland and almost teen fanfiction-esc. The pieces were there in your fucking hands yet you decided the puzzle would look even better with glitter glue and duct tape. It’s a fun idea that is unfortunately stuck with a bland tumor that mindlessly ruins the main selling point of the film. It’s good to talk about corporations putting out half assed games, stealing from employees, avoiding lawsuits, and trying to stamp out indie game devs.
This isn’t the film to do it in.
Watch Free Guy if you want, it’s still fun. The writing might take you out of it a little considering the fact that its written by someone who wanted to appeal to gamers from 2009 with characters saying things like ‘noob’ and ‘pwnd,’ but you can tell that there are some fans of video games involved in the film. There are some clever references and some neat cameos (that wasn’t corporate mandated Marvel and Star Wars stuff that made me groan and cringe), that made me happy to see them. There are some funny jokes as well, Ryan Reynolds is playing himself as usual. Free Guy is fun.