When Ryan Reynolds first announced Free Guy and the concept behind the film, I was thrilled at the thought of a video game themed film that looked like it didn’t take itself too seriously. You know, a typical Ryan Reynolds film. What we saw on screen was very different to what I expected but also entirely predictable at the same time.
Free Guy, directed by Shawn Levy, follows Guy (Ryan Reynolds), a bank teller who realises that he’s actually an NPC (Non Playable Character) in a video game upon discovering the woman of his dreams, a player who goes by Millie (Jodie Comer). Much like other rom-com-action-adventure films, Free Guy’s plot is straightforward and easy to comprehend. Though a film about a man’s mission to win the heart of a woman he deems to be the ‘one’, the film also explores the concept of free will and the idea of A.I self-awareness that’s often found in films far more complex than this. This is explored in the overarching plot of the battle between Antwan (Taika Waititi), the owner of Soonami Games, who developed the fictitious Free City, the game in which Guy exists, and Millie, who developed the code used in Free City.
Guy’s journey from repeating the same day over and over, to bettering himself and discovering that there’s more to life is something that was not only fun to watch, but quite refreshing. Seeing the wonder in Guy’s eyes upon the discovery of the world around him, albeit a world within a video game, was a nice reminder to be grateful for the little things. The experience of watching Guy come to life within his world was made even more fun by the outrageous antics within the game and the incredible cameos that were included. The crazy, no holds barred mayhem that takes place in Free City is amusing and visually quite good, though it was nothing new. I say this given the fact that we’ve seen similarities with films like Ready Player One or Tron for example.
What really did sell the film for me, was the cameos. Having references to several different popular franchises across both film and gaming was fun and quite unexpected. The celebrity cameos were definitely an added bonus that added to the entertaining value of the film. I can almost guarantee that you’ll either smile excitedly or jump up from your seat upon seeing some of these on screen. The only gripe I had with this was the lack of diversity in the talent they chose to involve, once again showcasing that only a particular demographic is ‘popular’ in mainstream media.
Furthermore, as a gamer, I was blown away by the different brand product placements that were apparent throughout the film. Each of the main ‘real life’ characters were given dedicated gaming brands to represent, which was an interesting choice. Millie sported the HyperX Cloud Alpha headset throughout the film, Keys (Joe Keery) used all sorts of Razer products, from what looked to be the Razer Kraken headest, Razer Blade laptop and even the Razer Hammerhead Pro earphones and then, finally, Mouser (Utkarsh Ambudkar) was kitted out with Logitech G gear. This may not be a big deal to most viewers but to gamers? Seeing these products in the mainstream is pretty cool.
The character development in the film was another factor that helped give the film a sense of pace and added value to the story. Learning more about Millie and her ex-partner, Keys (Joe Keery), helped paint a bigger picture as to the conflict between Millie and Antwan. It was also endearing to see the film include Utkarsh Ambudkar as a fellow employee of Soonami Games, who wasn’t purely there to play the part of the comedic relief. While there were certainly moments showcasing that particular stereotype, his role was to be first and foremost, a programmer and not a nerdy, can’t speak English type, either. Could this mean small change is coming in terms of representation of Indian characters in blockbuster Hollywood films? Here’s hoping. The action and adventure aspect of the film certainly allows viewers to sit back and enjoy the film without having to think too much. This is especially welcomed during the crazy times we currently live in and watching Free Guy allows us a sense of escapism that doesn’t require too much effort.
Overall, Ryan Reynolds seems to have found his calling in being type-cast as the self-aware fictitious character in films. The subtle similarities between Guy and Deadpool can be seen, albeit subtle. In many ways, though a more family friendly film, Free Guy is a film that can be enjoyed by all those who enjoyed Deadpool, and then some.
A film that doesn’t take itself too seriously, is predictable in nature and has wicked cameos, Free Guy is a fun-filled film that will take you away from your worries and daily routines, which is very much needed in this climate.