Who hasn’t occasionally wished that life were a little more like a video game? You find a star, you turn invincible; there’s always a nice horse that wants to take you wherever you want to go; swords are just lying around waiting to be claimed. But in a video game, there’s always someone else with their hands on the controller. In Free Guy, background game character Guy (Ryan Reynolds) takes control of his own story—and gets everyone’s attention, in-game and out.
“My name is Guy, and I live in Free City. I have everything I need,” Guy cheerfully proclaims—before his life goes sideways. A non-player character in an open-world game, Guy is nobody special, narratively speaking, but he has a goldfish and friends and feels like a real person. And he’s self-aware enough, the trailer suggests, to realize what’s happened when death by “murder train” stops him from meeting a mysterious girl (Jodie Comer). Nothing fazes him. But when he steps out of his ordained narrative to take events into his own hands, everything changes. Here’s the official summary:
A bank teller who discovers he is actually a background player in an open-world video game, decides to become the hero of his own story…one he rewrites himself. Now in a world where there are no limits, he is determined to be the guy who saves his world his way… before it is too late.
Free Guy sounds like a mashup of a lot of things: The Truman Show, Wreck-It Ralph, Ready Player One, plus any number of video games, which could be a good or bad thing depending on your affection for meta-narratives and questioning the state of reality. Thanks in large part to Reynolds’ Extremely Earnest Action Dude delivery, this is a pretty charming trailer for a movie with a standout cast. Stranger Things‘ Steve Harrington, aka the actor Joe Levy, shows up in our reality as a friend of Comer’s character; the always excellent Lil Rel Howery (Get Out) plays Guy’s buddy, Buddy; and Taika Waititi wants Guy dead.
Free Guy is directed by Stranger Things‘ Shawn Levy, whose last movie was Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb. The screenplay is by Matt Lieberman, who’s mostly written children’s movies (including 2019’s The Addams Family) and Zak Penn, whose screenwriting credits include Ready Player One and X-Men: The Last Stand.
Pick up the controller December 11th. (The movie’s website says “in theaters,” but isn’t this exactly the kind of movie one should watch from the comfort of one’s own sofa or gaming chair?)