It’s no big secret that movies based on video games have a terrible track record. Despite the rich source material they draw from, video game movies often bore critics, infuriate gamers, and make a pittance at the box office.
Movies inspired by video game culture are a whole other story. Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, Wreck-It Ralph, and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World earned legions of diehard fans in the years since they’ve debuted. They’re clever deconstructions of gaming industry tropes loaded with winks and nods to anyone who ever picked up a joystick. Best of all, these high-octane flicks thrill viewers by tapping into the same joyous aspects of gaming that draws millions of players to the industry.
It looks like the folks at 20th Century Studios have been paying attention. The studio’s new film Free Guy takes place in a video game world that isn’t based on an existing video game series. The film stars Ryan Reynolds as a poor schmoe who learns he’s a background character in a simulated video game world. Queue the existential crisis…
Free Guy trailer:
Free Guy looks like a paean to video games. I love the concept of a self-aware NPC (Non-player Character) out there trying to live his best life inside a video game warzone. The premise gives me major ReBoot vibes.
As a lifelong gamer, I’ve terrorized my share of NPCs and plundered countless virtual cities like my name was Thanos. Surprisingly, I have a smidge of sympathy for Free Guy’s unassuming hero. I’m actually curious to see what happens when an NPC finally stands up for themself.
Free Guy synopsis:
In “Free Guy,” a bank teller who discovers he is actually a background player in an open-world video game, decides to become the hero of his own story…one he rewrites himself. Now in a world where there are no limits, he is determined to be the guy who saves his world his way…before it is too late.
Starring Ryan Reynolds, Jodie Comer, Lil Rel Howery, Joe Keery, Utkarsh Ambudkar and Taika Waititi, “Free Guy” is directed by Shawn Levy from a screenplay by Matt Lieberman and Zak Penn and a story by Lieberman. The film is produced by Ryan Reynolds, p.g.a., Shawn Levy, p.g.a., Sarah Schechter, Greg Berlanti and Adam Kolbrenner with Mary McLaglen, Josh McLaglen, George Dewey, Dan Levine and Michael Riley McGrath serving as executive producers.
Some of the video gaming world’s most influential figures drop in for cameos in “Free Guy,” including: Imane “Pokimane” Anys, Lannan “LazarBeam” Eacott, Seán William “Jacksepticeye” McLoughlin, Tyler “Ninja” Blevins and Daniel “DanTDM” Middleton.
Free Guy arrives in theatres on August 13th, 2021.