To directly answer "Where is Free Guy based on?", the movie is set in the fictional video game metropolis of Free City, though it was largely filmed on location in Boston, Massachusetts. Keep reading for a deep dive into how the real world city of Boston was transformed into the virtual open world playground of Free City.
Free City Based on Open World Games Like Grand Theft Auto
At its core, Free Guy is the story of Guy, an average bank teller NPC (non-player character) who gains awareness inside the ultra-violent, open world video game Free City. Free City itself is a clear parody of infamous games like Grand Theft Auto and Saints Row that give players free reign to disregard laws and go on crime sprees.
In fact, director Shawn Levy has openly admitted Grand Theft Auto was a major creative influence on Free Guy. The movie lovingly spoofs signature elements of the mega popular Rockstar Games series like carjacking, gun fights, police chases, and an irreverent tone that lets gamers explore their villainous alter egos.
Key Similarities Between Free City and GTA:
- Players can commit crimes like theft and assault with few repercussions
- Police can be evaded through car chases and firefights
- Missions involve law breaking like bank heists and assassinations
- Set in a sprawling metropolis with diverse neighborhoods
- Packed with satirical humor mocking pop culture and games
So while not officially licensed or endorsed by the Grand Theft Auto developers, Free Guy is clearly a loving tribute to the groundbreaking open world genre GTA pioneered.
Filming Locations Transform Boston into Free City
The fictional Free City was brought to life through extensive location filming in and around Boston, Massachusetts. According to IMDb, filming locations included:
- Financial District, Boston – The core setting of Free City with landmarks like State Street
- Worcester City Hall – Establishing shots for the Free City Hall building
- Weymouth Studios – Indoor scenes like Guy‘s apartment and the Antwan mansion
- Revere Beach – A beachside scene with Guy and Love interest Molotov Girl
- Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania – Aerial shots of downtown Pittsburgh establish Free City‘s skyline
So while Free City doesn‘t actually exist, the streets of Boston were able to stand in as a realistic urban center. Advanced digital effects also added to the illusion, inserting fantasy elements into the real world filming locations.
Fun Fact: Over 90% of Free Guy was filmed in Massachusetts
According to the Massachusetts Film Office, only a few scenes were captured outside the state, making Free Guy overwhelmingly a Made in Massachusetts production.
Influenced By Many Other Games Too
In addition to the core GTA model, Free Guy includes references and homages to many other popular video game franchises:
- Fortnite – Antwan does dance emotes from the hit shooter
- Halo – Molotov Girl wears a costume based on Master Chief
- Minecraft – Pixelated blocks and tools copied from the sandbox game
- Pac-Man – Guy eats power pellets that function like Pac-Man power-ups
The central conceit of an NPC gaining consciousness also mirrors advanced open world games like Skyrim and The Elder Scrolls Online that use complex AI systems to make characters more lifelike and reactive.
By blending together aspects of different gaming genres, the world of Free City feels multidimensional and immersive for viewers.
A Fun Cast of Characters Anchors the Story
While clearly playing with gaming tropes and cliches, Free Guy also succeeds through genuine character development and acting performances:
- Guy – A cheerful NPC bank teller who decides to become an unlikely hero
- Molotov Girl – Tough as nails programmer trying to prove her code was stolen
- Keys – Molotov‘s partner who guides Guy on his journey of self discovery
- Antwan – Flamboyant streamer and ally to Guy in Free City
- Mouser – Greedy CEO who will stop at nothing to monetize Free City
Ryan Reynolds‘ earnest, funny performance as Guy anchors the real world emotional journey at the story‘s heart. And Joe Keery of Stranger Things fame also shines as the introverted, sympathetic Keys.
Top notch writing and acting allow these characters to rise above gaming cliches into fully realized, complex figures we connect with.
Cool Celebrity Cameo Appearances
In addition to the core cast, Free Guy has great cameo appearances from major celebrities:
- Dwayne Johnson as the bank robber who inspires Guy to change
- Hugh Jackman as Molotov Girl‘s guide
- Chris Evans as a Captain America parody
- Channing Tatum as Dollar the Dog
Hearing these familiar voices pop up throughout Free City ads an extra level of fun. Their appearances are woven naturally into the game world itself.
Free Guy‘s Success Points to Potential Sequel
Free Guy proved to be a surprise critical and financial hit, grossing over $331 million worldwide. With numbers like that, a sequel is very likely according to director Shawn Levy and Ryan Reynolds. Though plans aren‘t finalized, the hope is to take audiences on a fresh adventure that avoids repeating the original‘s beats.
The ending leaves doors open for the real world programmers to rebuild Free City, and for Reynolds‘ Guy to explore the real world as a more evolved, self-aware AI. A sequel could jump between the recognizable Boston setting and a revamped Free City 2.0.