Ryan Reynolds described Free Guy as “a fastball of joy” in an interview with SFX, so leave your cynicism at the door. Guy, a bank teller in Free City, is played by Reynolds. Despite this, Guy maintains a positive outlook on life, wishing everyone a “great day” rather than a “good day.” Guy is unaware that his world is a video game, and that he is an NPC (non-playable character), one of many who populate the background and appear to exist solely to be exploited by the players (here denoted in-game by people wearing sunglasses). But then he meets Molotov Girl, a player who goes by that moniker.
Free Guy joins the pantheon of “good” video game films, which is still small, and immediately ranks alongside recent releases like Detective Pikachu, Sonic the Hedgehog, and Ready Player One. And I haven’t seen a film that captures gaming and gaming culture as well as Ready Player One, so this may be the only instance of tea-bagging that is genuinely amusing.
Guy breaks his programmed loop when he meets Molotov Girl, and in order to impress her, he buys a pair of player sunglasses.
Millie (both roles played by Jodie Comer) is the avatar of Molotov Girl, a programmer who is pursuing a legal case against the publisher of Free City and its CEO Antwan, alleging that he stole her code and used it to create the game. Guy must level up in order to help her, and this is where the film makes use of video game mechanics to enhance the story.
Free City, like GTA or Fortnite, is a sandbox game in which the player is free to act however they want. Rather than leveling up by inflicting pain, he does so by doing good, and his altruism captures the public’s imagination to the point where “blue shirt guy” becomes a worldwide phenomenon.
Much to Antwan’s frustration, as he believes this is ruining the game. Several real-life YouTubers and Twitch streamers play themselves in the film. As Guy continues to learn and grow and slowly become more sentient, Reynolds plays a Greek chorus in the 2013 Deadpool video game. It’s a fun way to get us to think about our online habits without being preachy or glib.
Free Guy, like Ready Player One, is chock-full of Easter eggs, references, and cameos, including one that made the entire screen go crazy.