Reviewed by: Alexander Malsan
Living in an open-world video game
The world of video gaming and gamers
Games like Grand Theft Auto and Fortnite
An idealist in a world that is very cynical and dark
Ryan Reynolds … Guy
Jodie Comer … Millie / Molotovgirl
Lil Rel Howery … Buddy
Joe Keery … Keys
Utkarsh Ambudkar … Mouser
Taika Waititi … Antwan
Hugh Jackman … Masked Player in Alley (voice)
Dwayne Johnson … Bank Robber #2 (voice)
Tina Fey … Vacuuming Mom (voice)
John Krasinski … Silhouetted Gamer (voice)
Alex Trebek … Alex Trebek
Aaron W Reed … Dude (Aaron Reed)
Britne Oldford … Barista
Camille Kostek … Bombshell
Mark Lainer … Hostage
Mike Devine … Officer Johnny
See all »
See all »
20th Century Studios, a subsidiary of The Walt Disney Studios, a division of The Walt Disney Company
Guy lives in Free City. He has his routine down to a “T.” He wakes up, says good morning to his goldfish, grabs his shirt, watches the news, grabs his coffee and then he walks to work at his favorite place in the world… the bank.
Guy’s occupation as a banker has its dangers though, as everyday somebody comes in and yells, “Everybody get down on the ground! No one needs to be a hero! This will all be over soon.” So Guy gets down behind the counter, as usual, with his best friend, a security guard named Buddy.
Guy tells Buddy he wants more though. He’s tired of the same routine, over and over again. As these two buds walk out of the bank, that’s when Guy spots the love of his life walking down the street, Molotov Girl.
After a very brief interaction with Molotov Girl (let’s call her MG), she tells him that if Guy wants to spend any more time with her and help her with her mission, he must reach the same level she’s at (he’s a level 1 and she’s at 153).
Oh, wait! Did I forget to mention that Free City is actually a video game and Guy is an NPC (non-playable character), while MG is a player in the game (the person in the real world is a gamer named Millie)? Guy, however, is unaware of all of this, as are all the NPCs in Free City. Okay, now that you have that…
Millie/Molotov Girl needs Guy’s help to retrieve information in the game that proves her and her friend Walter’s original coding is in the game (in essence, the gaming company Soonami twisted Millie and Walter’s original game into something completely different).
But there’s a bigger problem on the horizon, and it’ll take not just any Guy, but a “Good Guy” to fix this bug…
When the initial previews hit theaters a while back, I was actually really looking forward to “Free Guy.” After the disjointed, though well intentioned, film “Pixels” came out in 2015 (that paid homage to the retro video games), I was excited that we modern-day video gamers (yes I’m an avid video gamer when I’m not teaching music full time) were being given a film that would, yes poke fun at the video game world, but also celebrate the milestones that have been made.
“Free Guy” reminds me of the musical parody artist Weird Al Yankovic. Weird Al parodies famous songs, but when he does he does it both humor and respect (in many cases, the artists give him consent to use their music, even though he doesn’t need it, and are honored he asks). The film “Free Guy” both honors and pokes fun at the whole video game community. The rules, the terminology, the avatars, the gameplay, everything. It made me wonder at one point, “How did the video game community become the way it is?” “Free Guy” isn’t trying to reinvent anything or create anything new here, and I think that’s okay.
As other reviewers have mentioned, there are so many hidden “Easter Eggs” (surprises) in the movie that only true gamers are going to notice. However, there is still plenty for those who aren’t avid gamers. A fairly strong plot (apart from a few moments where the pacing is a bit slow). Additionally, there are some fine performances from many of the main characters (and some great cameos by some famous YouTubers and famous gamers).
My biggest critique of this film, though, is the dialog. Not simply because it is certainly off-color and suggestive at times, but also the conversations feel a bit awkward in some situations (particularly those involving the film’s main antagonist, the head of Soonami, Antoine (Taika Waititi).
Violence: “Free City” is a very violent city (actually, it’s a city with non-stop violence). There is a lot of violence occurring around Guy whenever he walks around the City, such as tanks running over cars, people beating each other, cars being smashed into, people thrown through a glass door, vehicles crashing, helicopter crashing—essentially chaos, mostly comedic in nature.
There are scenes to be aware of though. In one scene, Guy is run over by a train. He gets beat up in another scene. A person is shot in the chest, leaving a giant hole through him. A large action sequence occurs where heads are bashed. Guy is hit with a car. A man is held hostage. Buildings start to cave in on MG and Guy, as they are driving. A character is thrown against a pole. Lastly there is a large fight sequence.
Vulgarity: F-word (1 or more — “Good f***ing morning”), S-words (17), “Bone” (referring to sex), “Dick” (2 — referring to male privates), including “If you didn’t have a d*ck…”, “Giving me a** and ball cancer at the same time”, “Is that a Glock in your pocket?”, “banana cream sandwich all over themselves”, “kitty” (apparently referring to female privates), “You’re so hot”, “Like losing my virginity, but in my mouth” (referring to delicious coffee), “Suck it, Antwan”, “Hey, 40-year-old virgin”, “Screw it”, A**hole (3), including “A**hole mouth”, A** (5), “Be-atch”, and “Sucks”
Profanity: OMG (11), G*d (4), G*d-d*mn (4), Jeez (1 — a euphemism for “Jesus”), “D*mn” (3), “Swear to G*d” (1), “Holy sh*t,” “H*ll” (10), incl. “Holy h*ll” and “H*ll yeah” (there are instances of H*ll and other profanity in some song lyrics—too many to count).
Sexual Content/Dialog: Someone chooses a stripper cop as an avatar. Someone mentions “all rabbits do is b*ne and brawl.” We see characters give a “tea bagging” (it is a sexual gesture a player does to a victim they’ve killed in the game). Someone mentions Guy “found her button.” Someone does a sexual dance. A player states to his mom he has a special sock that land you in therapy for life. Someone says “hit the pixels hard.” The phrase “a*ss and b*ll cancer” is used. A homosexual reference is made. Characters share a couple kisses.
Nudity: There is a shirtless male when a player chooses a male stripper. There is a male NPC later in the movie who is also shirtless.
Drugs: Someone makes a reference to recreational drugs.
Alcohol: A scene takes place in a saloon.
Other: Someone mentions to Guy, “I’ve met God, he’s a d*ck” (try to tell Guy that Guy’s god is actually Antoine not God Almighty). Someone mentions they don’t want to see your mom’s basement. Someone starts a conversation about a homosexual male and murderer and someone in a wheelchair and a baby, but the conversation is cut off abruptly.
One of the biggest takeaways I think is to live to your fullest potential. For Christians, this means, at times, stepping out of your comfort zone, breaking the norm, and answering the call from God. It’s not always easy when God knocks on the door and asks you to move—to change. The change is always for His greater plan though.
“You did not choose me, but I chose you [the Apostles] and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.” —John 15:16
“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” —Romans 8:28
“I know, O Lord, that the way of man is not in himself, that it is not in man who walks to direct his step” —Jeremiah 10:23
As I said, it is not always easy or comfortable. I’ve had to make life-altering changes for God in my life, but such is the nature of serving God. He gives us strength when we call upon Him, so that we are able to make the changes and be able to continue to endure.
“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” —James 1:2-4
As I finish this review I reflect on how, in the decades that video games have existed, we’ve gone from simple games like Pong to Virtual Reality. It is amazing the gifts of creativity and ingenuity that God has provided humanity. In a sense, “Free Guy” celebrates this feat, while also pointing out that we can get lost in a fantasy world if we aren’t careful and lose track of reality. That’s a message that is not heard enough.
But underneath, I felt like I wanted to hit a reset button on some scenes, particularly those that contained questionable dialog (mostly from Guy) and the heavy amounts of violence (even if parts were, sure, comedic in nature). The very large amounts of sexual dialog, vulgarity and the like make this film not recommended for viewing by Christians.
While it is a nice homage to video games, like video games themselves, the content may be a bit too strong for some parents to approve. I saw young children at the screening I attended. Discretion is definitely advised.
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.