Free Guy is a fun summer movie filled with action, laughs, and multiple underlying themes that resonate with audiences. Hilarious cameos and easter eggs will have you slapping your knee around every corner.
The story immerses you in the action of a violent video game alongside NPCs (non-playable characters). Guy (or Blue Shirt Guy) is a bank teller who becomes self-aware and decides to play the game in a way that changes the online world forever. Free Guy takes a look at video gaming as a whole also. As players, we leave our realities behind to enter another that allows the players to become a different persona leading an alternate life. When the pandemic hit and people were in lockdown, they turned to video games to free them from the current reality. According to research by Safe Betting Sites, the number of Twitch streamers jumped by 150% year-over-year and hit almost 9.9 million in January (2021). Statistics show the average number of Twitch viewers soared by 68% year-over-year and hit over 2.1 million in 2020.
Free Guy does a great job at showcasing the life we leave behind to enter the gaming world by using cameos from top Hollywood action stars. Jodie Comer’s character is a great example of how your confidence and resolve can change when you enter the gaming world. While Ryan Reynolds and Taika Waititi are laughter-making machines, Comer’s character brought out a layer of heart I wasn’t expecting. The difference between Molotov Girl, her online player persona, and Millie, her real-life, was so different not just in hair and make-up, but in how she holds herself.
“I think the biggest thing was physicality,” says Jodie Comer. “When we first see Millie, she’s very defeated. And I think she becomes empowered through Molotov and obviously had the help of the incredible hair and costume team alongside that. Also accent there’s like an accent filter within the game. So in the game, she’s British, and then in real life, she’s American. So there were quite a few, and visually, they are very, very different.”
“You feel like you’re just kind of a passenger, on this ride that you have no control over, and it can feel overwhelming,” says Director Shawn Levy. “And we can all feel powerless, right? Like in life, in this world, in these times. So this movie, that is yes, set inside a video game is also about taking control of your life having an impact on your world. And those themes were really kind of juicy and compelling to Ryan and I.”
Free Guy also makes something very clear. Gun violence is a problem in games and in real life. While a blatant reminder, it’s one that clearly needs repeating to the public. It’s a call to arms to all the NPCs of the world that we, as a group of people, have to power to create change in the world. We just have to stand up and do take action.
“It’s so exciting to be a part of a movie that is non-IP, not a comic book movie, not really based on anything other than an original idea, and other kinds of movies that I went to as a kid, and my hat’s off to Disney and 20th Century for taking the time and investing in a new concept,” says Ryan Reynolds. “It leaves you walking out of the theater with a huge grin on your face. And I just kind of miss that feeling. The movie has a lot of themes that I think would resonate with people. For me, it’s a little bit about, when we band together and come out of the shadows, you can do anything if you’re unified agents of change. That’s sort of what this movie is about is that people were in the background, getting to step into the light and make a difference.”
While the story isn’t set in an actual game, Disney and 20th Century Studios allowed for some great cameos and easter eggs from other games and The Walt Disney Company IP to another level of enjoyment and laughs. Without giving too much away, Marvel, Disney, Star Wars, and Fortnite fans are in for a treat.
“The same way that Stranger Things is kind of like a character piece kind of just set in the 80s, I think Sean, all of his movies have like a really strong sense of character and heart in all of his stuff, says Joe Keery. “So I feel like that he does a very great job of bringing very strong identifiable characters and kind of just dropping them in the gaming world. You can kind of go into the film, not knowing anything about gaming, and still enjoy it. But then also there’s kind of like, little nods to the gaming world as well.”
The writing duo for Free Guy brings a lot to the table. While Matt Lieberman brings heart character connection, Zak Penn brings the action from video game and comic book stories. Add Shawn Levy, and you have a summer blockbuster.
Free Guy is only in theaters on August 13th.
We’re All NPCs