Free Guy

The tldr; is that this movie could not have possible worked without Fornite. Full stop.

If you enjoy Ryan Reynolds being himself, well then, you’re going to enjoy this movie. If you want a social critique on MMO behaviors, then yeah, this is the movie for you. If you’re looking for a film full of easter eggs and call-outs to gaming, then this is a thousand times more appropriate than Ready Player One.

I have no idea who was smoking what when this pitch came through. An NPC in an MMO gains sentience, and then the McGuffin quest to find proof of the AI. Sounds like a few people on a couch, enjoying the air, and then this comes out. Without Fortnite taking over the west, there’s no way for movie goers to even understand the fundamentals here. The whole over 49 demographic is going to come away from this with barely any understanding of what’s going on.

It is worth pointing out that Taika Waititi goes for the fences in this one. It’s so borderline absurd, it’s realistic to the immature genius of game development studios. That he doesn’t use an accent here, really let’s him lay into the kiwi vibe something fierce. There’s not a scene he doesn’t completely own.

This is also a weird movie with the romantic aspect is a key turning point. Fine, the epilogue is laying it on thick (more on this) in terms of the main characters, but it’s also an interesting twist plot-wise, that acts as a deux ex machina. Gamers understanding MMO technical limitations will find this particular scene a little tough to swallow, but in the larger scheme, it works.

The whole movie is about breaking a 4th wall (or I guess a 5th) in blurring the line between the art and the consumer. The epilogue just puts it all out there… log off and talk to people. Feels like a giant critique of streamer/gamer culture, which doesn’t feel like it’s heavy handed. It does feel like this is a more cartoony version of a Black Mirror episode, and packaged in such a way that people can take something away from it, aside from depression.

Call me pleasantly surprised with the balancing act this film achieves. Plus, you know, Ryan Reynolds.

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