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‘Free Guy’ and its themes will resonate with viewers during the pandemic

September 3, 2021

In ‘Free Guy,’ the main character Guy (Ryan Reynolds) discovers that he is a character in a video game and goes on an adventure to save his virtual city. (Photo courtesy of 20th Century Studios)

Over the past year, college students have lived, learned and socialized online. Guy (Ryan Reynolds) has been doing so his entire life.

This is the premise of “Free Guy,” a comedy with a touch of sci-fi and romance that owes inspiration to movies like “The Lego Movie,” “The Matrix” and “The Truman Show.”

“Free Guy” follows Guy, a bank teller who decides to become a hero when he realizes that he has been living in the virtual world of Free City as a video game character his entire life. Along the way he forms a relationship with a player named Molotov Girl, or Millie (Jodie Comer), who is also his programmer. Guy and Millie work together with Millie’s friend, Keys (Joe Kerry), to save Free City from deletion by its head developer Atwan (Taika Waititi). Failure to complete their mission could mean the end of Guy’s existence, as well as the erasure of the world that Atwan stole from its original creators, Millie and Keys.

The most interesting aspect of “Free Guy” is how its characters grow from their interactions with both real and virtual worlds. Similar to how Guy must break away from his mandated routine and evolve as an entity, Millie and Keys are tasked with fighting back forces that prevent them from maintaining their freedom, growing their relationships and understanding themselves.

As we emerge from quarantine, we are also figuring out how to best adapt to a world that is simultaneously constraining and forcing us to grow. The way that the characters are affected by both the real and virtual worlds will resonate with viewers who have been forced to juggle interacting with others in-person and on virtual platforms.

Further evidence of the film’s relatability is its success at the box office. According to Box Office Mojo, as of Monday,”Free Guy” has already grossed over $179 billion worldwide and continues to bring in tens of millions of dollars each week. It is one of the few exclusively in-theater films this summer that have been profitable despite the impact of the pandemic on the movie industry.

On its own, “Free Guy” is a decent movie. I don’t recommend it for moviegoers who are overly critical; it’s not perfectly paced, there are a few plot holes and not all of its jokes work out. However, because of the moment that it was released in, “Free Guy” takes on a new meaning that will resonate with those who lived through the pandemic.

I enjoyed “Free Guy” tremendously and highly recommend it to viewers who are looking for a fun movie worth seeing in theaters after a year at home.


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