Ryan Reynolds is a busy man, as he has so many projects on the table. However, of all of his projects in the pipeline, there’s one interesting original movie not tied to any previous release, though it seems oddly familiar.
Free Guy is about an average guy who finds himself in the middle of an open-world video game where seemingly anything goes, and it’s one of the most anticipated sci-fi movies of 2021. Between family adventure movies with a similar premise and other Reynolds movies that show off the actor’s witty prowess, there are loads of movies out there to get fans prepared for the upcoming release.
Updated on May 14th, 2021 by Mark Birrell: Even though people often say that there aren’t any movies based on video games, this isn’t strictly true. Many great writers and directors, some of whom have worked on Free Guy too, have utilized the idea of video games to create beloved and original stories. We’ve added a few more movies to this list to show off the best of these stories which might interest those who are intrigued by Free Guy’s premise, as well as some more high-concept adventures that bend both genre and reality.
15 Wreck-It Ralph (2012) – Available On Disney+
Wreck-It Ralph is incredibly similar to Free Guy, as the premise has Ralph haphazardly jumping from video game to video game trying to make sense of the world.
And though Wreck-It Ralph is an animated movie aimed at kids, for all intents and purposes, the humor is also familiar to what’s found in the Free Guy trailer, as it’s full of satire and references to real-life video games. Wreck-It Ralph is the perfect man-child movie, which is what Free Guy is shaping up to be.
14 Detective Pikachu (2019) – Available On HBO Max
Being the first proper Hollywood blockbuster made from the Pokémon series, it only makes sense to build the movie around the single most cutest Pokémon in the universe, Pikachu.
The biggest difference that was made to the character was making him able to talk, and of course, the smooth-talking Ryan Reynolds voices the titular character, being as witty and referential as he always is. Though it doesn’t make much sense, it’s still as endearing as ever, and the overwhelming success of Detective Pikachu already has fans excited about the sequel.
13 The Matrix (1999) – Available On HBO Max
The Matrix is perhaps the most famous movie to take place inside a computer and while it’s unlikely that Free Guy will have the exorbitant level of philosophical examination that The Matrix has, the premise is quite similar.
Though Free Guy is looking more like the kind of movie that allows viewers to shut off their brains for a couple of hours, The Matrix is intelligent and makes the audience think, but it’s just as action-packed. And watching The Matrix almost works as a double-whammy, as it’ll get viewers excited for not only Free Guy but also the upcoming Matrix 4 too, which is due out at the end of the year.
12 Existenz (1999) – Available on Paramount+ and Crackle
Released the same year as The Matrix, David Cronenberg’s take on a virtual reality thriller is one of the few things capable of rivaling the Wachowskis’ masterpiece in terms of it most mind-bending qualities.
Existenz revolves around a near-future organic video game technology that jacks in its players like the Matrix does for a more elective–but no less weird and dangerous–experience.
11 Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle (2017) – Available On Fubo
Along with Free Guy, Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle is another movie that sees its characters thrust into a video game. Being a remake of the Robin Williams classic, it was hard to follow up, but it ended up being an extremely fresh take on the story, and it’s full of ridiculous video-game tropes and slapstick comedy.
The movie even has a sequel, and there’s a third one in the making too, but many fans feel that the first movie in the newer series remains the best.
10 Deadpool (2016) – Available On Fubo
Watching Deadpool in order to gear up for the release of Free Guy is a no-brainer, as it sees Ryan Reynolds in his most iconic role and started the whole Reynolds craze that cinephiles are loving right now.
Being the fourth-wall-breaking superhero, Deadpool is essentially the mouthpiece for the fans, as he tends to bring up what everyone in the audience is thinking. On top of that, being R-rated, he isn’t scared to say exactly what he’s feeling, whether it’s sex-related, regarding the way he’s going to slice and dice his enemies, or any other hot topic.
9 Thor: Ragnarok (2017) – Available On Disney+
Thor: Ragnarok was a big leap from the first two Thor movies, which were considered by some to be a bit unadventurous. Ragnarok turned the series into a colorful space odyssey and was directed by Taika Waititi, who didn’t just direct the movie but also acted in the film, playing the voice of Korg.
And though he might have the least amount of screentime in the movie, he’s the MVP of the whole series. He also stole the show for a moment in Avengers: Endgame too. Waititi has a major role in Free Guy, and though it isn’t clear exactly what his role entails, it’s sure to contribute to its comedy.
8 Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010) – Available on Netflix and Cinemax
Though not expressly set within a video game, this colorful comic book adaptation from writer and director Edgar Wright uses plenty of video game imagery in its highly stylized view of the real world.
Following an immature bass player who must defeat a woman’s evil exes in beat-em-up style combat, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is a masterclass in modern action-comedy that has plenty of superhero connections like Free Guy does.
7 Night At The Museum (2006) – Available On Hulu
Free Guy is directed by Shawn Levy, and the filmmaker is one of the most sought-after directors for hire working today. The director’s best work usually combines comedy and fantastical elements, and that’s no more clear than in Night At The Museum.
The movie follows a night watchman at the American Museum of Natural History where the models come to life, and the regular Joe who finds himself out of his element is similar to the concept of Free Guy.
6 Last Action Hero (1993) – Available on Starz
The screenplay for Free Guy was co-written by Zak Penn, who’s worked on many big action movies in Hollywood since starting out with the story for this entertaining meta action-comedy starring Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Last Action Hero sees a young movie fan get sucked into the new Schwarzenegger action movie they’re watching, sending up the tropes of the genre at that time and incorporating a smorgasbord of its own wild ideas for setpieces.
5 Buried (2010) – Available On Peacock TV
Buried is one of the movies that best shows off Ryan Reynold’s acting chops, and it’s one of his best movies according to Rotten Tomatoes. Though Reynolds has become known for his witty sense of humor, Buried is the movie that will make audiences see the actor in a different light, as the entire film rests on his shoulders.
Reynolds is the only onscreen actor in the entire movie and the whole 90 minutes takes place inside of a coffin, as his character doesn’t know how he ended up there and needs to find a way to get out. It’s intense, thrilling, and not for people who don’t like small spaces.
4 The Final Girls (2015) – Available on Showtime
Characters realizing that they’re trapped in a controlled–or looped–reality is a popular concept in movies and one that mixes really well with various genres. Though it’s often used in sci-fi stories, movies like The Final Girls show just how well it works with horror and comedy.
Instead of breaking the rules of a video game, the main characters of The Final Girls have to fight their way out of an ’80s slasher movie with both hilarious and heartfelt results.
3 Tron: Legacy (2010) – Available On Disney+
Just like Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle, Tron: Legacy is a movie that takes place inside a video game. It might be a sequel to the 1980s movie Tron, but the sequel is flashier, has stunning visual effects, and expands the world in a way that makes the original movie feel almost redundant.
There isn’t much of a gripping narrative in Legacy, as it’s more style over substance, but it’s a joy to look at, and the races are incredibly detailed.
2 They Live (1988) – Available on Peacock
There’s no video game aspect to this 1980s cult classic but the movie’s take on a virtual reality that consumes the world is one that’s resonated with movie fans for decades. John Carpenter’s They Live follows a drifter who discovers a pair of sunglasses that allow him to see the world around him for what it really is: a dystopia controlled by aliens.
Clearly a commentary on the aspects of greed and excess within ’80s American culture, the movie is also a hugely entertaining action-comedy with a Hall of Fame fight scene.
1 Ready Player One (2018) – Available On HBO Max
As Free Guy is about a character who finds himself inside the world of an open-world video game, Ready Player One is pretty similar in concept and had its screenplay from the novel’s original author, Ernest Cline, co-written by Free Guy writer Zak Penn.
Though Free Guy is more of a parody of video-game tropes, Ready Player One pays more of a homage to its influences, as the movie sees the main character roam around a world where the Iron Giant, dinosaurs, and Back to the Future exists. The movie is exciting, has buckets of fan service, and it’s actually one of the few movies that are better in 3D.
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