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Free Guy

Free Guy

We've all seen the story before, but never told in this intriguing way.

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In many ways, NPC existence is a pure dream for the background characters in the video game Free City: you do not have to take a stand on anything, avoid worrying about existential thoughts and you can live the rest of your life according to a safe, predetermined routine. However, that's not enough for the NPC character Guy, played by Ryan Reynolds. Something is constantly gnawing in him: a longing for something more, perhaps a woman by his side who understands his ambitions about wanting more in life. When one day he falls in love with one of the players' avatars, the open-world game he populates changes for the better - to the gaming company Soonami's great annoyance.

Free Guy is a story we've seen many, many times before: take control of your life, break the pattern, dare to bet on your dream, believe in yourself, get the girl at the end of the movie. But the NPC perspective makes this an unusually tight and well-thought-out story that does its best to represent games and gamers. Free Guy is more than just a glued-on game set, as the filmmakers also do a nice job of integrating the digital world with the best sides of game culture. It is precisely this sense of community and big, pumping heart that makes Free Guy somewhat of a winner.

Ryan Reynolds plays himself here, where one quickly recognises the actor's wit and risky remarks. The character himself, however, dislikes violence, even if he is surrounded by it in every waking minute of his scheduled life. When Guy then manages to break the barrier and starts playing the GTA-scented Free City in his own defensive way, he becomes a role model for many players. Even Twitch profiles like Ninja and Pokimane see the daring NPC character as a true fighter, in the belief that Guy is a player with a NPC skin.

Free Guy

This naive hero is well complemented by Jodie Comer's character, who is given the difficult task of telling Guy that he is not genuine. Comer is especially good as the equally vulnerable love interest - both as an avatar and as an indie developer. The movie avoids pressing the most clichéd buttons by playing according to its own rules and puts more focus on its characters than being as faithful to a model as possible, which makes this a resourceful and focused video game film that draws in the right emotional threads. The gaming world itself is fun to explore as soon as Guy finds special glasses, which make him aware of everything from floating first aid kits to loot systems. Sure, there may be some bad CGI in here, but it is also deliberately in some areas. The purposely unfinished, not finalised-render of the final boss is a fun example of its playfulness.

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However, Free Guy is not a completely bug-free story. The biggest problem is really its length, it's just too long. The final act drags on. Some flat jokes and somewhat forced guest appearances also contribute to the protracted feeling, while the Truman Show element - is well managed and works well. In the end, I have a hard time disliking Free Guy, who knows exactly what it wants to be from the first to the last frame.

Free Guy is programmed to be a family-oriented, fun, light blockbuster, but it is also relaxingly classic in its structure and the characters are unexpectedly lovable. I'm one of those who still thinks that Cronenberg's feverish eXistenZ is the best video game movie ever made, but if Sonic The Hedgehog and Free Guy are any indication that mass-produced video game adaptations can work in the long run, I would like to see more of them. Even though the dramaturgical path is easy to figure out from the get-go, you are constantly surprised by the film's charm and well-mixed genres, where twisted game satire meets light-hearted science fiction existentialism in a cute and fast-paced story about the human being.

Free Guy
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07 Gamereactor UK
7 / 10
overall score
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Free Guy

Free Guy

MOVIE REVIEW. Written by André Lamartine

We've all seen the story before, but never told in this intriguing way.



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