Captain Khakis

Two movies show videogaming’s progression into the mainstream. First was Pixels, an embarrassment that thought so little of its target audience, the movie stopped dead to explain Pac-Man. Free Guy has an explanatory scene too where Ryan Reynolds learns he’s just a videogame AI routine and not real. That happens an hour in. The (correct) assumption is that some 70 million Grand Theft Auto players don’t need the basic rundown until Reynolds’ character does.

Free Guy genuinely understands boarder gaming culture. The olden gags about living in mom’s basement remain, but that’s paired with a burgeoning streamer populace, a wider media perspective, and satirically grueling behind-the-scenes production chaos. Much of Free Guy rocks out to Mariah Carey’s “Fantasy,” a perfectly paired anthem that in title alone, drives home what videogames do for people.

Free Guy genuinely understands boarder gaming culture

There’s a wider gag about the violence people engage in virtually, and Free Guy stands up for those real world players who found a way to draw attention by using non-violence. Reynolds’ Guy plays nice. He detests brutality, and in turn, becomes a popular outcast in a world defined by tanks, guns, and explosions. It’s comical, of course. Riotously funny even. However, it’s also showing a maturation of this market – gun-focused games still sell massive numbers, but under them is a growing sub-genre built by quiet thrillers or life-based dramas. Free Guy navigates both, and feels authentic in doing so.

In its own corny way, Free Guy drives home a romance too. After Guy realizes he’s just a background character, he says he loves his would-be girlfriend. She replies, “You only think that because it’s your programming.” There’s a kooky metaphysical undercurrent there – humans run on their own sort of chemical programs – and then Free Guy makes that line matter in the closing moments. It works.

Be aware the shared kiss prior to the credits happens after a ridiculous clash that’s as much about Disney flexing their pricey pop culture properties as it is about humor. Like the rest of Free Guy though, that’s gaming as a whole, ensnared by geeky fandom, cheering for an appearance from a Star Wars lightsaber. That it’s in the hands of infinitely likable Reynolds (even if he is playing the same easy-going goof he usually does) only makes it work better.

Video

Exceptionally clear digital video shows zero faults like noise or artifacting. Spotless imagery lets the sharpness shine. Detail flourishes, giving the city appropriate texture and when in close, facial definition sprouts. Free Guy hits all the high points of modern video in these elements.

Saturation doesn’t pop, and instead stays a bit reserved. There’s energy to go around; certainly the primaries show life and once Reynolds puts on the glasses, the various icons around the world hit a nice peak. All of the text exudes a hefty glow, that’s where the HDR can make itself especially known.

Highlights lack vibrancy though. The whole presentation runs dim, as in, “check your calibration settings” dim. Free Guy doesn’t push nits particularly high going by eye alone, but even still, the depth is appreciably better than the companion Blu-ray, lagging brightness or not. What contrast misses in intensity, black levels can make up the difference to give the presentation needed dimension.

Audio

A monstrous low-end kicks off from the opening credits. All of the music throbs with the same volume and dynamics. So too do the sound effects from grenade launchers to rifle blasts. Explosions bring the same power. Cars slam into one another to great effect.

Atmos activity seamlessly filters into the soundstage, enough so that it’s possible to miss those touches entirely when not paying attention. Free Guy stretches wide, using the rears brilliantly to place the action. The usual array of bullets stream between speaker, and exceptional width in the fronts gives special attention to that split. The design misses nothing.

Extras

Bonuses hang out on the Blu-ray only. Things open on a triple dose of deleted scenes (one of them is extended) that run near six minutes combined. A gag reel comes up just short of five minutes. A well put together rundown of the final fight lasts 15-minutes. Jodie Comer’s dual character role earns a featurette that runs seven minutes. Taika Waititi is the focus of an eight-minute follow-up. Free Guy’s production origins and concept are explored in the next (and final) featurette.

Free Guy
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Extras
4

Movie

Free Guy takes the crown of the best videogame movie because it understands and satirizes the culture.

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The following six screen shots serve as samples for our subscription-exclusive set of 48 full resolution uncompressed 4K screen shots grabbed directly from the UHD: