FREE GUY*CUT TO THE CHASE*
NOTE: This spoiler was submitted by Jeremy
The film opens in the world of Free City, a video game where players can take part in action-packed missions like spy jobs or bank robberies. The biggest players are the ones that wear sunglasses, as it gives them an advantage over other characters. Among the many non-player characters is Guy (Ryan Reynolds), a bank teller who enjoys his mundane and routine lifestyle. He works with his best friend, a security guard named Buddy (Lil Rel Howery), and they always have to play the part of helpless bank employees as they get robbed.
Elsewhere in Free City is a sunglasses character called Molotov Girl (Jodie Comer), who is interrogating another player (Hugh Jackman) for info on an artifact she is searching for. Afterward, she walks near Guy and Buddy as they walk home, and Guy hears Mariah Carey’s “Fantasy” play as Molotov Girl walks past him. He comments on the song, which surprises her because she is used to hearing all the stock phrases each NPC has to say. Guy becomes smitten and follows after her but is hit by a train, sending him back to his home to relive everything.
When Guy goes back to work, the robbery takes place, but Guy decides to do something different and tries to acquire the sunglasses off of a robber (Dwayne Johnson), accidentally killing them with their own shotgun even as the player in the real world tries to take Guy down. He takes the sunglasses and leaves the bank. When he puts them on, he sees various parts of the game highlighted to show what they are there for (the bank for robbery mission, for example). He finds that he can pick up health boxes to fix himself up, and he continues to literally see the world through new eyes. However, when he tries to change things like his regular coffee order, the other NPCs appear to get suspicious of Guy.
Outside in the real world, Soonami, the company behind Free City, catches wind of Guy’s activities, thinking he is a hacker who used a NPC skin to take down other players. Two employees, Walter “Keys” McKey (Joe Keery) and Mouser (Utkarsh Ambudkar) go into the game as their avatars, a stripper cop and a pink rabbit, to confront Guy. They chase after him, but he got limited edition sneakers that provide him with high jumping skills. Guy tries to escape them by grabbing onto a wrecking ball but he misses and falls, saving himself with a bubble suit. However, Keys and Mouser find Guy and kill him, thinking they have taken the “hacker” out for good.
An interview is shown of Keys with Millie Rusk (also Jodie Comer), as they were the masterminds behind Free City before Keys’s current boss, Antwan (Taika Waititi), stole their code and bastardized the game into his own thing to create a soulless franchise. Millie visits Keys and plans to get evidence of Antwan’s crimes because she knows that proof of their code is hidden in a safe house inside the game, which she is trying to infiltrate while playing as Molotov Girl.
Guy later finds Molotov Girl outside the safe house. Although he wants to join her in her mission and elsewhere, he cannot because he has a low level (1 to be exact) while she is at a higher level. Guy then starts taking on missions with the glasses and pulls off several heroic acts like returning stolen money and pulling kids away from traffic. Players in real life take notice and Guy soon becomes a viral sensation called “Blue Shirt Guy”, even appearing as an answer on “Jeopardy”. Guy tries to get Buddy to join him after stealing another pair of sunglasses, but Buddy thinks it’s too dangerous.
Antwan catches wind of Guy and wants his employees to keep Guy on because of how popular he is. The company is set to launch Free City 2, which Antwan wants out in two days time despite not being fully coded and still glitchy, and he makes it worse by telling Keys that the game is not backward compatible with the first game, so most of the characters won’t return for the sequel.
Guy gets to a high enough level that he goes to the safe house while Millie makes an attempt to get in there. Just as she is almost killed, Guy crashes through on a motorcycle and helps her fight off the villains before escaping on a hang glider. Later on, the two hang out and eat bubblegum ice cream, which both consider to be underrated. At the end of their date, Guy kisses Molotov Girl, which surprises Millie. Meanwhile, Keys starts to notice something unusual about the codes of the NPCs. He brings the info to Millie, reporting that the barista in the coffee shop learned how to make a cappuccino through trial and error while a blonde bombshell character wrote a book on gender roles after she encountered Guy and was influenced to follow her own path. This proves that Antwan stole Keys and Millie’s code, because their idea for the game that turned into Free City would have had the NPCs grow and develop over time as they adapt, and that’s what Guy has been doing. He also warns Millie that the current world of Free City will be lost once the sequel launches.
Millie goes back into the game to bring Guy to the central hub where other players gather, revealing to him that he is just a character in a video game. Once the realization hits him, Guy goes into a funk and loses his cheerful demeanor. He goes to Buddy’s house to talk to him about his newfound existential crisis, and Buddy attempts to cheer him up by assuring him that the moment they are experiencing together is real.
Buddy joins Guy as he decides to help Millie and get the file she wants. The guard avatar (Channing Tatum) is excited to meet Guy as the player in the real world reacts to seeing him. He basically lets Guy rob him and take what he wants, even asking Guy to kill him, but Guy refuses to do so. He brings the file to Millie, which is the evidence she has been looking for.
Guy’s no-kill demeanor catches on with players, including popular streamers like Ninja and Pokimane. However, Antwan starts to get pissed off and thinks that Guy will ruin sales for Free City 2. Mouser suggests that he reboot the server. In the game, Guy and Millie see the file, which contains information about an island that proves hers and Keys’ code is in the game. Just as Guy mentions that he has seen the island before, the game is rebooted, which causes Guy to go back to before he became self-aware.
Millie is able to log back on, but Guy doesn’t remember who she is. She asks Keys for help, and he tells her that the character he made that Guy is based off of is a lovelorn NPC who is always searching for his dream girl, and he just needs something to help trigger the code. Millie (as Molotov Girl) kisses Guy, and it brings back all his memories, including where he saw the island. The image of it is reflected off the blinds in his apartment, and with that info, Keys figures that the island is just beyond the city’s horizon. Guy and Millie then round up all the NPCs in Free City to inspire them to migrate to the island and follow their own choices instead of what they were coded to do.
With all the NPCs gone, the players are left confused. Antwan soon catches wind of Molotov Girl and learns that Millie is involved. He orders Mouser to delete her and Guy for good. Mouser starts to manipulate the game’s environment to close in on them as Guy tries driving them outside the city. Players all over the world are tuned in to watch the saga unfold. Keys intervenes and helps create a ramp to escape the destruction, all while the NPCs watch from afar. They make it to the beach, but Molotov Girl starts to get deleted as Keys helps create a bridge for them. Antwan then has his employees launch Dude (also Ryan Reynolds), a bigger, stronger, dumber version of Guy that isn’t fully finished but is Antwan’s last ditch effort to get rid of Guy. Buddy arrives to help while Guy gets tossed around by Dude. Buddy gets some sunglasses and throws them to Guy, who is able to conjure up Captain America’s shield (which surprises Chris Evans watching in a cafe) and a Hulk fist, as well as a lightsaber. However, Dude nearly overpowers Guy until he puts the glasses on Dude, who now sees the world as Guy does. Guy and Buddy start running toward the island, at which point Antwan starts to lose it and takes Mouser to the server room where he now plans to completely erase Free City. Mouser stops helping Antwan due to his loyalty to Keys, so Antwan begins smashing everything with an axe, causing the city environment to be deleted. The bridge is being deleted too, and Buddy doesn’t make it far until he is also deleted, but he tells Guy that he has had the best day of his life thanks to him. Guy runs fast enough until he finally breaks through the barrier and makes it to the island, which is then revealed to the NPCs and the players in the real world. Millie makes it to the almost totally destroyed server room and makes a deal with Antwan to let her have the code to the game while he can keep the Free City name for sequels and spin-offs.
Soon, Free City 2 launches to abysmal sales, and Antwan starts to face heavy scrutiny at work and in the media. Millie, Keys, and Mouser develop “Free Life”, making the game they always wanted to make with more expansive environments and details. Now being more dedicated to the game, Millie must “break up” with Guy, but he completely understands and parts amicably with her. Millie then watches a video playback of Keys describing that Guy’s character was always going to fall in love with Molotov Girl because he created the algorithm for his attraction to her based on Keys’ own love for Millie. She realizes this and goes to catch him in town where they share a kiss.
Back in the game, Guy and Dude have become friends, but Guy misses Buddy. It turns out Buddy was brought back to life in the game, and the two best friends reunite. Buddy asks if they should return to work, but Guy says that they can now go wherever they want and do whatever they want.
In the open-world game of Free City, a non-player character called Guy suddenly becomes self-aware and deviates from his original programming. Initially seen as a glitch or a hacker, Guy becomes a worldwide viral sensation as he performs heroic deeds and inspires other NPCs to live beyond what they were assigned to do. This is noticed by game developers Millie Rusk and her former partner Walter "Keys" McKey, who originally developed the code for the game that Free City became, but it was stolen by Keys' current boss, Antwan, who just wants to turn Free City into a generic cash-grab franchise.
With Guy's antics threatening the launch of Free City 2, Antwan attempts to get Keys and his new partner Mouser to delete Guy, but Guy ends up helping Millie gather evidence that Antwan stole the code in the form of a video showing an island that is part of the game's original build. After rounding up all the other NPCs and inspiring them to migrate to the island, Antwan tries to have Guy and Millie's avatar, Molotov Girl, deleted from the game, but Keys helps them get closer to the island. Antwan sends a bigger and dumber copy of Guy called Dude to beat him up, but Guy manages to get Dude on his side. Realizing his crimes are almost found out, Antwan attempts to destroy the game's servers to delete everything, but Guy manages to make it to the island in time, which is seen by gamers all over the world. Millie makes a deal with Antwan to take the code back so he can keep the Free City name to develop his franchise. This bites him hard as sales for Free City 2 tank and he gets wrapped up in controversies at work and in the media.
Millie, Keys, and Mouser develop their own game with the NPCs from Free City still saved, and Millie parts ways with Guy so she can focus on her work, and she also later starts a relationship with Keys. Guy continues to enjoy his new world with his best friend Buddy.