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– by Fox Troilo

Director Shawn Levy (Stranger Things) and Ryan Reynolds (Deadpool) have been working on a bit of a secret project called Free Guy, and at New York Comic Con 2019 they finally pulled back the curtain just a bit on the film…and it looks fantastic.

Free Guy is the story of Guy (Reynolds) a bank teller who begins questioning his very reality. And he’s right to, given that he is actually a Non-Playable Character (NPC) in a massive online video game called Free City. The movie toggles back and forth between the real world and the world of Free City.  Levy’s direction shines as they use clean lines and bright colors to help differentiate the world of the game from the more gritty real world. As Guy becomes more self-aware, he decides that he’s going to play his experience out as a good person, approaching his world with kindness and gentleness. This contrasts with the other players who essentially perform crimes and misdemeanors in order to gain experience and level-up. The whole concept is a bit like the intersection of Ready Player One, Truman Show, and The Matrix rolled into one.

During the panel, Reynolds and Levy explained that while Free Guy is meant to be highly entertaining, it is also a very personal project for them. Reynolds, in particular, stressed how in modern society it’s easy to feel like everything is just happening and individuals can easily feel powerless to stand up and do something right to enact positive change. That underlying philosophy serves as the foundation for the film.

RELATED: New Ryan Reynolds-Starring Action-Comedy Free Guy Gets Video Tease And Poster | NYCC 2019

The footage debuted as part of the panel featured both the Free City side of the movie and the “real world,” giving us a sense of the aesthetics they have in mind for these two very different places. In the first clip, Guy has met Molotov Girl (Jodie Comer) the latter of whom doesn’t realize Reynolds is an NPC and just assumes he’s a brand new player within Free City. Comer walks around her lair which is stocked with weapons and vehicles while Reynolds peppers her with questions. It’s during this exchange that Reynolds really leans into his comedic side as his wide-eyed naivety shines.

In the second clip, Comer is outside of the game (in the real world) and speaking with Joe Keery’s (Stranger Things) character as the two come to the realization that Guy is actually an AI that is becoming self-aware. After the clip, Reynolds very accurately praised Keery on his ability to find ways to expound exposition in wonderfully entertaining ways. Keery proves his performance as the affable Steve Harrington was no fluke during his excited exchange with Comer.

The trailer for Free Guy essentially represented the core tenets of the story, but it did showcase the fantastic action audiences should expect. Levy purposely designed the game world in a way to allow for superfluous explosions and wanton destruction all the while throwing physics out the window. The result appears to be a wild ride that will be absolutely perfect for the summer blockbuster season when Free Guy hits theaters on July 3, 2020.

Jill Troilo contributed to this article.

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Fox serves as an entertainment journalist in the Washington, D.C. When not covering cinematic news for LRM, he critiques films as a member of the Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association. Fox also has a Ph.D. in Higher Education and Strategy from Indiana University Bloomington.