Any video game we play has main characters and NPCs. The main characters or the player characters are the characters we use to move around the game, complete missions, and so on. The NPCs are the non-player characters. The one who gives you hints as you play, helps you find your way or just exists in the background of the game world.
What would you do if one day you woke up and found out that you were an NPC? Someone who does not add or take anything from life. Someone who just exists as an accessory to other people’s adventures? This is the idea behind Shawn Levi’s brilliant film Free Guy! An NPC suddenly gains self-awareness and tries to change his life by participating in the game as one of the main characters. The film was so well made it was compared with Ready Player One and The Matrix. So we watched it, loved it, and want to tell you all about it!
Free Guy: The Life of An NPC (Plot Summary)
The plot of the film starts with an NPC character named Guy. Guy is a bank teller in Free City, a multiplayer online video game. He wakes up every morning, has his breakfast, and walks to the bank, unaware of all the mayhem and fighting happening around him.
In Free City, the way to distinguish player characters from NPCs is by special glasses that they wear. The glasses allow the player characters to see the world of Free City differently and more engagingly. So Guy, not having those glasses, can only see parts of Free City and what happens around him.
In the real world, unemployed software programmer Millie plays Free City as a player character named Molotov Girl. Millie plays the game intending to prove that Soonami Studios, Free City’s developer, has stolen her source code to create Free City. As she plays, Millie starts to sing the song “Fantasy”, which gets Guy’s attention. For the first time, Guy is able to notice one of the player characters!
This change activates some new programming in Guy, and he deviates from his role as NPC. In the bank, the daily robbing event happens. Instead of hiding like he usually does, Guy attacks the leading player, knocks him to the ground, and steals his gun and glasses! Shocking all the other NPCs, including his best friend Buddy, Guy leaves the bank to look for Molotov Girl.
The NPC Becomes the Main Character
Self-aware and excited about all the new things he can see with his new glasses, Guy follows Molotov Girl to Revenjamin Buttons’ stash house. Together, they try to steal the source code of Millie’s game but fail. Millie, thinking Guy is a noob, advises him to level up before they can try again.
At Soonami, Keys, a technical support employee, wonders if Guy is a hacker disguised as an NPC. But as he watches Guy quickly level up in Free City, he reveals that he actually is an NPC who gained self-awareness. Keys, being friends with Millie, knows that her source code included artificial intelligence used to make NPC smarter. This revelation convinces him that Millie’s code must be somewhere in Free City. Before he can do anything with this information, Antwan Hovachelik, the CEO of Soonami, orders the developers to release Free City 2 in 48 hours, deleting all data for Free City, including NPCs!
Keys lets Millie know that her source code is about to be deleted. Millie, in turn, tells Guy about the truth of his existence and that his code, along with every other NPC, is about to disappear forever. Distraught, Guys leaves Millie to find his friend Buddy. They talk and decide there is more to their existence than being quickly deleted NPCs.
Guy remembers that there is an island outside of Free City with the remaining code from Millie’s game Life Itself. He decides to help all the NPCs of Free City to escape to the island before the reboot. Antwan, insisting on deleting all remnants of Free City, sends in an unfinished Guy-resembling character named Dude to stop Guy from escaping with the other NPCs.
The Final Stand of the NPCs
Guy and Dude fight using various classic video game weapons. But as Guy realises he is not strong enough to win against Dude, he uses trickery instead. He takes off his glasses and puts them on Dude, using the momentary moment of Dude being perplexed by what he sees to escape. Antwan, refusing to lose, starts to physically smash the game servers at Soonami.
With the world of Free City quickly disappearing, Millie tells Antwan that she will drop her lawsuit and give up her share of the profits of Free City in exchange for her source code and Free City. Antwan agrees and gives Millie the code.
Millie and Keys use the source code to rebuild Free City, this time calling it Life Itself as she originally intended. She brings back all the NPCs, including Guy, Buddy, and Dude. Guy reveals to Millie that his code, created by Keys, has always been a love letter to her, which is why he is so interested in Molotov Girl. Millie and Keys kiss and decide to run Life Itself together. On the other hand, Free City 2 fails miserably due to bugs and slow connections.
The Players and NPCs of Free Guy
Shawn Levi pursued the idea of Free Guy when Hugh Jackman introduced him to Ryan Reynolds. He believed that Ryan could bring something unique to his project and pitched it to 20th Century Fox as their first project under Disney. He added more A-list stars to Free Guy’s cast, giving the film its funny and quirky nature. Let’s meet the players and NPCs of Free Guy!
Shawn Levi is an American actor, director, and producer. He started his career as an actor in the 1987 film Zombie Nightmare. He took a lot of supporting roles in popular movies and TV shows such as 21 Jump Street, Beverly Hills, 90210, and 30 Rock.
His directing career started to build up in the 2000s as he worked on popular movies such as Cheaper By the Dozen, The Pink Panther, and Night At The Museum. He went on to produce the Academy Award-nominated film Arrival. Since 2016, he has been an executive producer on Netflix’s Stranger Things, where he also directed multiple episodes.
Free Guy was his first collaboration with Ryan Reynolds. They went on to make The Adam Project together for Netflix and are currently working on Deadpool 3 with Disney.
Ryan Reynolds is an American actor and comedian. He gained his popularity from romantic comedy movies such as Definitely, Maybe and The Proposal opposite Sandra Bullock. In 2009, he portrayed Deadpool/Wade Wilson for the first time in X-Men Origins: Wolverine.
His fascination with superheroes led him to play Green Lantern opposite Blake Lively. Fans poorly received the film; however, Reynolds got out with Blake Lively as his wife (that’s a win in our books!). He finally got his superhero break as Deadpool in 2016. The film was a great commercial success that gained Reynolds ultimate popularity among fans.
Reynolds’s career soared after Deadpool! He made a sequel in 2018, which was just as successful. He starred in films such as Detective Pikachu, The Hitman’s Bodyguard with Samuel L. Jackson, Free Guy, and The Adams Project.
Jodi Comer is an English actress who started her career as a supporting actress in TV shows such as The Royal Today and The Mad Fat Diary. She gained her first critical acclaim starring in the miniseries Thirteen (2016).
In 2018, Jodie Comer started playing Villanelle in Phoebe Waller Bridge’s smash hit Killing Eve. Her role as the elusive, a bit mad, and beautiful Villanelle gained international recognition and awards. She won a British Academy Television Award and a Primetime Emmy Award for her role in Killing Eve from 2018 to 2022.
She starred in Free Guy and The Last Duel in 2021. She went on to star in the one-woman play Prima Facie. During the West End run, she won an Evening Standard Theatre Award and a Laurence Olivier Award. When the show was moved to Broadway, she won her first Tony Award.
Joe Keery is an American actor best known for his role as Steve Harrington in Netflix’s hit series Stranger Things. His role as Steve gained him international fame and popularity among young people.
He starred in Free Guy as Keys in 2021. He went on to take part in other Netflix projects, such as Death to 2020 and Death to 2021.
Taika Waititi is a New Zealand filmmaker, actor, and comedian. He got his career breakthrough by writing and directing the documentary What We Do In The Shadows in 2914. The film was later adapted into a TV show, earning multiple nominations for Emmy Awards and Critics Choice Awards.
Taika is best known for directing two MCU films: Thor Ragnarok and Thor Love and Thunder. Thor Ragnarok is his first major studio film to direct. In 2019, he wrote and directed Jojo Rabbit. He received two Academy Award nominations for it, winning Best Adapted Screenplay and a Grammy for the soundtrack.
In 2020, he starred in many films, such as Free Guy, The Suicide Squad, and James and Giant Peach. He also created, starred in and produced the show Our Flag Means Death for HBO Max.
To Be Or Not To Be An NPC (Review)
Not everyone is a fan of video game-based films and TV shows. These kinds of projects can sometimes have a very niche audience who loves it, but it has a hard time getting a general audience. Free Guy does not have this problem! We think it’s in part thanks to the writing but also to Ryan Reynolds. Ryan Reynolds’s brand of comedy has proven to be a significant success in recent years. Breaking the fourth wall and talking straight to the audience is his winning grace in projects such as Deadpool and now Free Guys, as well.
Even though Guy doesn’t break the fourth wall, his existence as a self-aware NPC is a break. Seeing him discover the same world he has always lived in with new eyes is interesting and exciting throughout the entire movie. The jokes Ryan drops as he finds the truth of his existence always hit no matter how many times you watch Free Guy!
There are many easter eggs thrown in throughout the entire film. Our favourite must be when Guy whips out Captain America’s shield to fight against Dude. If that wasn’t funny enough, paired with the Marvel theme playing in the background, then the sudden cameo of Chris Evans will get you rolling off your seat in laughter!
Free Guy is a hilarious movie to watch with your entire family. The video game players will be ecstatic as they watch it, but even noobs (like us) will absolutely have the best time ever! It’s intelligent, hilarious, and does not have a slow moment in sight. If that is what you’re looking for movie night, then go on and stream Free Guy.