Free Guy Is Fun But The Plot Is All Over The Place
Free Guy is a mess of a movie, a strange, all-over-the-place insanity of a film. It follows one plotline, a standard Matrix-style idea—and then fails to have one genre anymore.
Oh, and it’s also kind of a blast. It’s delightfully fun and sweet. Ryan Reynolds can be such a puppy dog of a character, and it’s impossible not to love him by the end.
And these two things, this place of conflict, make it kind of hard to review Free Guy. It feels like at least five movies smashed together, not helped by the plot flying between a real-world and video game plot, with both directly affecting each other.
It’s A Miracle That This Movie Is Actually Coherent
But we have to start somewhere—so let’s talk about this as a video game movie. Because that, at the very least, is baked into everything. I don’t think it’s controversial to say this is a parody of GTA. But it also uses that parody to talk about the modern issues of live services and how commercialized in anti-consumer ways video games can be. I think the movie is in favor of the possibilities of the art form and is ultimately positive about video games.
But I have to say “I think” because this movie continued to challenge my assumptions. I must imagine the writer’s room consisted of both people that don’t know video games and some that do. A few jokes, behaviors of characters, and various instances of lingo are correct. They do sometimes understand how people really can act with games like these. They even have scenes with real-world gaming personalities from both YouTube and Twitch. But then other moments remind me of those hacker movies that have no idea what they’re talking about or what any slang terms mean. What muddles it even further is that multiple characters play heavily on negative gamer stereotypes. It also has a “nerdy guy being friend-zoned” plot, which opens even further cans of worms.
Free Guy Has Some Particularly Outdated Cliches
But I don’t have time to go over all that in-depth. This article would be too long. I have to focus, even if the movie refuses to keep a consistent identity.
I said this movie was fun, and I meant it. And that’s almost entirely because the cast is doing an amazing job of keeping everything lively. I already mentioned how Ryan Reynolds elevates the whole thing, but I cannot stress how delightful his character is. We need more positive, loving action heroes. We also need more bombastic villains—and we get that in Taika Waititi. He delivers a delightfully evil villain that’s fun to watch every second he’s on the screen. Once he and Utkarsh Ambudkar’s characters play off each other, it’s electric and campy in all the best ways.
The Huge Cast Is Really Good Across The Board
And I would be remiss if I didn’t give credit to Jodie Comer and Joe Keery. I’m not sure how I feel about how their plot progresses, but the actors do feel like longtime friends and teammates. Jodie even further steals the show with her double role, inside and outside the game. Her “date” with Ryan Reynolds’ character is both hilarious and a great scene.
Really, everyone does such a good job. Lil Rel Howery plays a charming character with one deep existential scene—and becomes almost the heart of the film. Even Britne Oldford’s barista character gets a few emotionally resonate moments. The background characters, both as comedy pieces and a way for existential exploration, just add to the world in a fantastically organic way. Even those without speaking roles add comedy at every turn. My personal favorite is a player trying to glitch themselves by messing with movement physics in the background of the ATM scene.
Almost Every In-Game Scene Has Fun Easter Eggs
It’s clear that a lot of love and passion went into Free Guy. It may be a blend of romantic comedy, near-future existential science fiction, irreverent absurdist humor, and gun-blazing action thriller, but it’s a good version of most of those all at once. As a critic, unique is rare—and I’ve got to appreciate it when I see it. Free Guy is not rote, it’s not following a standard script, and it pulls crowd-pleasing references out of nowhere.
If you just want a fun movie, Free Guy will do it for you. It’s a bombastic popcorn film with enough depth and detail to appeal to just about anyone. Watch it with friends on the absolute biggest screen you can find. It’s just that kind of movie.
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