Ryan Reynolds: Why Free Guy is more than a ‘video game movie’

Though Ryan Reynolds’ summer blockbuster Free Guy is set in a video game, this movie goes above and beyond the console.

What is the plot?

Set in Free City (which is the fictional backdrop of a popular video game), this film explores the life of Guy (a very normal, ordinary bank clerk). Guy learns to question the world around him, learning about his identity as a background character in a video game. Whilst other characters are operated by humans in the “real world”, Guy’s existence consists of repetitive menial routines. This is because he is a non-playable character.

No matter what happens to Guy during the day (whether he is injured, robbed at gunpoint, or simply engages in small talk with his barista) each morning is a fresh start and remnants of the previous day are wiped away.

Notably, Guy is the only non-playable character that is able to think for himself. As time goes by, he meets a Molotov girl (operated by a human in the “real world” named Millie) and communication begins. Millie supports Guy in finding out more about the fictional world around him. In turn, Guy is drawn in to challenge Antwan (Free City’s creator, a profit-chasing video gamer owner who stole Millie’s coding and Internet Protocol).

Why does it matter?

The film is certainly, in part, about video games. The Telegraph’s Ed Power notes that “Video gaming culture has a wide puerile streak, and Free Guy isn’t afraid to lean into it.” Molly Freeman from Screen Rant is in agreement, describing that Free Guy is “the best video game movie ever.”

However, there is more to it. “It’s interesting to me,” Reynolds adds. “Everybody says ‘it’s a movie based on a video game’. I really don’t think Free Guy is a video game movie. That’s like saying Titanic is a movie about boatmanship.

“It’s a movie about so much more. But I loved the narrow target we had to hit to create a world which felt authentic to gamers and then still smuggles this other story into that.”

And that story is about mutual respect, teamwork, and pride. Even a quick look at Ryan Reynolds’ YouTube campaign relating to this film tells you just that. In a video entitled ‘Best Supporting Actors‘, Reynolds shines a light on the film’s extras, and on the passions that make up the mosaic of their lives. ‘You know what? No ones in the background,’ sаys background actor Brandon Scales.

Although this film is set in a video game and reflects on pertinent issues in the technology sphere, it also touches on an aspect important to all of us: mutual respect and recognition. As Guy’s story shows, even a very ordinary background character has a winding story to uncover and a vital role to play.

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