DFTG Reviews Free Guy: Video Game-Loving Film Is Nearly A ‘Great Guy’
As video games have become a bigger part of the wider social media landscape, their presence and inclusion in the medium of film have been met with middling results over the past few decades. While direct adaptations of popular game franchises have largely been forgetful at best to downright terrible at worst, several films like Wreck-It-Ralph and Ready Player One have featured original franchises inspired by the medium of video games as a means of wider social commentary and found success with audiences and critics alike. Such again does the trend continue with Free Guy, starring everyone’s favorite handsome lead actor with snarky comedic sensibilities, Ryan Reynolds.
In Free Guy, Reynolds portrays the semi-titular Guy, a bank teller NPC in an open-world video game called Free City, which behaves like a cross between Fortnite and Grand Theft Auto. While real-world players in the game world get to engage in violent fights and action-packed quests, NPCs like Guy spend their days performing pre-programmed singular roles in the digital society, confined to their menial jobs, routines, and purposes related to quests for the players to enjoy.
Guy longs for more purpose and excitement in his life, which increases that much more when he finds fascination with Jodie Comer’s Molotov Girl, the action-heroine avatar of real-world indie game developer Millie. Millie analogously plays the game with hopes of finding evidence her original game code was allegedly stolen by Free City’s publisher Antwan, portrayed hilariously by Taika Waititi. The pair find an allyship with each other to achieve their respective goals, while also developing a relationship, all under the ticking clock of the game’s looming sequel release and signifying the end of the original Free City and its inhabitants.
Reynolds shines as he has in recent years, blending his action hero chops and looks with his prescient ability for comedic delivery and witty, fast-paced humor. In striking contrast to his now-infamous snarky turn as Deadpool, here Ryan Reynolds shows his comedic abilities can work on the other end of the spectrum as a sincere, optimistic figure that brings a surprising tone of wholesomeness to the story. Fitting in the rise of “hopepunk” stories of recent years, Guy’s intent on spreading kindness and compassion in the world of Free Guy serves as a sort of hopeful response to the film’s commentary on online gaming behavior, and perhaps even wider societal paradigms as well.
And while the film does poke fun at and critique various parts of the gaming industry (some of which feel extremely relevant and timely now as Waititi’s fictional game studio feels eerily similar to some of the big-name game companies in the news lately), it does seem that creatives behind the film did their proper research of online gaming and culture to craft the jokes in a way that feels respectful and not condescending. Surprisingly, the film even avoids lacing the game world with references to other games like previous pop culture-laden visual “member berry fests” have done in recent years. There are even several popular gaming streamers like Ninja and Pokimane on-hand giving some credence to the film’s acknowledgment of gaming and streaming as veritable forms of entertainment and connection in the modern era.
Like Wreck-It-Ralph and The Truman Show before it (both of which are clear influences on this film), Free Guy uses its particular entertainment medium setting as a means of exploring aspects of the human condition from a removed, objective perspective. As such, the story allows its characters to explore greater themes of meaning and purpose, but with enough action, humor, and even romance to help the near-existentialism from feeling overly dour or preachy. For better or for worse though, the influences of these previous films are so clear, devoted film buffs will likely be able to see some of the plot twists or character arcs coming a mile away, and might make the film feel like a blended pastiche than a fully unique extension of this specific structure of exploration.
While this prevents the movie from being a breakthrough revelation, its wide-eyed wholesome demeanor and competent mastery of its genre components make it feel properly constructed. If the viewer can hold off on these comparisons and just get lost in the Free Guy story, they’ll find plenty to enjoy and laugh at as a fun distraction from our own simulation we call real life. While Free Guy is just nearly a Great Guy, it still proves that being a Very Good Guy is still a worthwhile endeavor.
What do you guys think about this DFTG review of Free Guy? Let us know in the comments below! Be sure to stay tuned for more DFTG reviews, such as our review of James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad, here on Don’t Feed the Gamers! Follow us on Twitter to see our updates the minute they go live!
Cory Lara2137 Posts
A royally radical and totally tubular 90s kid, Cory has a passion for all things nerdy, particularly gaming and nostalgia. While an accountant by day, he strives to be as creative and humorous as possible in his free time, be it here writing on Don't Feed the Gamers, or making dumb satirical posts on his Twitter, Youtube, Facebook and Instagram accounts.