E.V. Out of Ten

Playing in 4,165 theaters, Free Guy grossed $28,365,416 during its opening, according to Box Office Mojo.

Playing in 4,165 theaters, Free Guy grossed $28,365,416 during its opening, according to Box Office Mojo.

FREE GUY: A FUN RIDE WITH SURPRISING HEART

It’s shockingly difficult to find a movie that four people want to watch. After a week of checking schedules and looking at what was playing in theaters, my friends and I decided to watch Free Guy, a 20th Century Studio film directed by Shawn Levy and starring Ryan Reynolds, released in August of 2021 after over a year of delays.

In it, Reynolds leads as Guy, a non-playable character (NPC) in the video game Free City who begins to think he’s alive after putting on a pair of glasses that playable characters in Free City wear, enabling him to see his world as a game. Completing his transfer to sentience is his sighting of the avatar MolotovGirl, a hero in Free City who teaches guy how to level-up. As Guy pines for MolotovGirl, a plot-line in the real world involves game developers Keys (Joe Keery) and Millie- the real life player of MolotovGirl-(Jodie Comer) attempting to prove that their AI was stolen by Free City creator Antoine (Taika Waititi). Notable side characters include Guy’s best friend Buddy (Lil Rel Howery) who has some of the most emotional scenes in the movie, and Mouser (Utkarsh Ambudkar), a developer for Antoine and friend of Keys and Millie who is pivotal in helping to reveal Antoine’s technology stealing.

The plots don’t come together until part way through movie, but they blend in a cohesive and engaging way. At its core, Free Guy is about living life authentically and with meaning, regardless of what that looks like. As Guy finds meaning in being in love with Molotov Girl (and their shared loved of bubblegum ice-cream), Buddy finds value in living every day in Free City, despite the fact that it’s not real. Keys and Millie find meaning in their relationship with one another and in proving that their AI developed independently. The digital world they created for their video game- Life Itself- allowed for the NPCs to become complex individuals capable of evolving outside of how the players interacted with them. 

The comedy of the movie only adds to the overall message. Without the humor and ridiculousness of the setting and characters, Free Guy would have easily become a self-important and ‘deep’ critique of how the internet has changed face-to-face interactions. The movie avoids this and instead attests to the meaningfulness of human connection regardless of how it takes place. Just because the world of Free City or Life Itself isn’t physically real, the connections made there are. Ultimately, people get to decide what is important and real to them, so whether you’re a living person or a sentient video game character, what you do has value.

Spoilers in this paragraph, skip ahead if you want to see the movie with all its surprises. Like any weepy-romantic, the last scenes of the movie are my favorite. The fact that Keys and Millie running towards each other in the street (unrealistic as it may be) is paralleled with the reunion between Guy and Buddy hits me right in the heartstrings. Levy knows what the audience really cares about. Lastly, Mouser’s arc is exciting to watch as he goes from Antoine’s helper to a developer of Life Itself.

Overall, Free Guy is a great movie if you want a fun viewing experience with good comedy, engaging plot, and most importantly, compelling characters.

9/10 would eat bubblegum ice-cream again. 

Further breakdown:

Writing Quality: 9.5/10                   Enjoyability: 9.5/10

Pace: 9/10                                             Visual elements: 9/10

Plot development: 9.5/10               Insightfulness: 8/10 

Characters: 10/10