Review: ‘Free Guy’ is an avid gamer’s dream quest


Courtesy of Ryan Reynolds

Screenshot from Ryan Reynolds’ Instagram celebrating the early critical success for “Free Guy.”

by Niamh Moore , Contributor

After a year-long delay due to the COVID-19 pandemic, “Free Guy” finally hit movie theaters on Aug. 13, 2021. The film grossed $181.6 million worldwide so far and currently holds an 82% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Packed with humor, suspense and cliff-hangers, “Free Guy” is definitely worth a trip to the movie theater. 

This science fiction action comedy directed by Sean Levy stars Ryan Reynolds as the main character. Levy has also directed many movies and T.V. shows such as “Night at the Museum” and the “Stranger Things” Netflix series.

Reynolds is known for his relatable persona and comedic timing, which he brings directly to this movie. 

Not only does it pull themes from some of the most popular video games, “Free Guy” has also been compared to “The Truman Show,” “The Matrix” and “Groundhog Day.” 

Reynolds plays a man named Guy, who unbeknownst to him is living as a non-playable character (NPC) in an open world video game called “Free City.” 

Guy is quite literally an average guy. He wakes up every morning, says hello to his goldfish, picks out one of his numerous freshly ironed blue shirts and heads out the door to his bank telling job. 

The bank gets robbed daily and nobody ever questions it they get down on the floor, give the robber their money and then repeat. All of the playable characters in the game wear sunglasses, giving them a first-person player point of view. This makes Guy extra superstitious – until one day he takes the robber’s sunglasses. The glasses allow him to see people’s user tags, walk through portals and complete tasks to secure a higher ranking. 

Over in the real world, “Free City’s” creators Millie (Jodie Comer) and Keys (Joe Keery), notice Guy and it blows their minds. He begins to get national attention, with news outlets and players wondering how a non-playable character (NPC) could possibly be taking part in the game. Many wonder if Guy is a possible hacker or someone who acquired a special “skin suit.” 

Millie and Keys soon come to realize their programming is more powerful than they imagined and these non-playable characters have become forms of artificial intelligence. 

From a cheery, happy-go-lucky bank teller to one of the most famous players in the game, Guy changes “Free City” overnight. Millie and Keys decide that it is Guy’s fate to save “Free City” from complete deletion. This comes after their evil boss Antwon (Taika Waititi) pushes to delete the game to hide the fact he stole the original coding from Millie and Keys. 

“Free City” is considered to be a massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) much like “World of Warcraft” and “Runescape.” Within this setting, Levy does an excellent job of giving the characters in the game a very extensive range of personality.

The film also highlights the modern-day phenomenon of artificial intelligence and how computer-generated characters and machines may someday form a consciousness of their own. 

On top of all the action, some of the most famous modern-day video game streamers, such as Ninja and Pokimane are featured throughout the film. These cameos help add another element to the huge amount of press Guy begins to get out in the real world. 

Since its release, Free Guy has been nominated for the Variety Piazza Grande Awards and Prix de Public UBS award. Plus, the film has received numerous high ratings and great reviews from critics. Its action-packed scenes and excellent use of special effects make it phenomenal to watch on the big screen. If you’re looking for a movie worth going to theaters for, look no further.

This is a film that even non-video game fans can easily connect with and support. Ryan Reynolds gives a charming performance, Taika Waititi is hilarious and it’s an overall great film. A sequel has already been confirmed by Disney, so Guy will have another adventure sometime soon.