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8/2/2021 • 4 min read
Ryan Reynolds is putting NPCs on the map. Every gamer knows about non-player characters — those digital extras who wander through a video game on set or algorithmic paths. They dispense missions and story points and serve as targets for whatever whims players want to unleash. The very concept is that they're more or less forgettable — and the movie FREE GUY asks what would happen if one realized what sort of world he really inhabits.
In FREE GUY Reynolds stars as, well, Guy, whose world is strange but also comfortingly familiar. Then he meets a captivating woman, who knocks the blinders right off his head, and in the process changes the path of Guy's life entirely. Most video game movies are based on games, but this one takes the very concept of some games as its starting point. Here's everything we know about FREE GUY.
FREE GUY comes to theatres on August 13.
The latest FREE GUY trailer captures the core idea of the movie well. It introduces the characters played by Ryan Reynolds and Jodie Comer, sets up the game world in which the action takes place, and sets up the villain and his basic plan. Much more important is that it makes room for a lot of jokes, which are clearly the flashy aspects of the script once you get beyond the basic "video game character becomes conscious" concept.
Watching that trailer, you'll notice that Mariah Carey's song "Fantasy" is prominent. The tune has been a core part of the FREE GUY promotional campaign, and it's not an arbitrary choice. Director Shawn Levy told CinemaBlend that Reynolds was responsible for writing the song into the script while he was polishing dialogue.
"Ryan, when he was doing the earliest dialogue polishes on this screenplay, he was listening to Mariah in his home, and he wrote “Fantasy” into the script. And I go, ‘What’s this about?’, and he’s like ‘It just feels good.’ So literally, based on nothing but Ryan’s instinct, and the fact that that was one of his writing tracks in the revisions of Free Guy, we approached Team Mariah and it lead to that song being the signature track. Not only in the movie, but in the campaign for the movie."
Clearly, FREE GUY is not based on any single game, but it is also obviously inspired by many open-world games. Chief among them is "Grand Theft Auto," though the over-the-top characters in the movie's video game are more like what you'd find in the "Saints Row" series or even a modern battle royale game like "Fortnite." But the idea of the somewhat independent NPC as seen in the movie is certainly rooted in "Grand Theft Auto."
Knowing how Ryan Reynolds likes to tie his movies to deeper aspects of whatever culture drives them — just look at the roster of characters that were squeezed into DEADPOOL 2 — we're likely to discover a great many video game influences once FREE GUY is actually out in theatres.
In addition to Ryan Reynolds as Guy, FREE GUY stars Jodie Comer as Molotov Girl and her real-world alter-ego Millie, a gamer who realizes something unusual is going on with Guy. The hilarious Lil Rel Howery stars as Guy's best friend Buddy, while Taika Waititi appears as Antwan, the megalomaniac developer who wants to retain control of the game world at any cost.
Joe Keery, best known from his role in "Stranger Things," plays Keys, while Utkarsh Ambudkar and Camille Kostek play supporting roles. There are quite a few gaming world cameos, too, including streamers like Jacksepticeye, Ninja, Pokimane, DanTDM, and LazarBeam.
When "Jeapordy!" host Alex Trebek passed last year, Ryan Reynolds revealed that Trebek had filmed a small part in FREE GUY even while suffering the effects of late-stage pancreatic cancer. "Alex Trebek was kind enough to film a cameo for our film Free Guy last year despite his battle," Reynolds tweeted. "He was gracious and funny. In addition to being curious, stalwart, generous, reassuring and of course, Canadian. We love you, Alex. And always will."
We've seen Trebek appear in a few other movies over the years, and the FREE GUY trailers let us know that his cameo seems to reflect his real-world career. Alex Trebek's FREE GUY cameo will also likely be Trebek's last new media appearance of any kind.
All images courtesy of 20th Century Studios.
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