Director Shawn Levy‘s clever merging of video gaming and real-world hijinks moves from a successful run in theaters and Disney+ to 4K disc in Free Guy: Ultimate Collector’s Edition (Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment, not rated, 2.39:1 aspect ratio, 114 minutes, $49.95).
The entertaining story introduces the non-playable character Guy (Ryan Reynolds), a human-looking, digital algorithm created as part of the open-world shooter Free City.
His seemingly idyllic existence as a bank teller gets corrupted when he meets the avatar Molotov Girl causing Guy to become self-aware as he falls in love with her, and his evolving source code now allows him to see his world as a real human player.
Molotov Girl is actually Millie Rusk (Jodie Comer), a computer programmer and creator of the game Life Itself and on a mission to find proof within Free City that her original source code was actually stolen by Antwan (Taika Waititi), the megalomaniacal owner of Soonami Studios.
In the finest traditions of “Tron,” “The Matrix” and “The Truman Show,” viewers watch the outcomes through the virtual gaming world as well as a real world.
Soonami programmers befuddled by the emergence of the anomaly Guy must now dive into the game as avatars to eradicate him.
The result is a thoroughly entertaining, action-packed romantic adventure complete with an ending battle that only the corporate buying spree Disney could pull off.
It’s made even more fun by Mr. Reynolds’ naïve yet evolving personality as Guy while realizing the power he wields due to feeling love.
Better yet, the preponderance of video game cliches are classic such as Guy discovering the importance of health packs, leveling up and power-ups (bubble suit and super jump shoes); what happens when trying to leave a current mission map; the creation of avatars with the most outrageous attributes (wearing a bunny suit); and having fun with avatar dance emotes.
4K in action: Culled from a 2K intermediate, the ultra-high definition presentation with high dynamic range enhancements offer a mostly clear, clean and colorful dive into both virtual and real worlds.
Highlights abound in the gaming universe and include watching a helicopter crashing into a glass building, Guy’s slow-motion spin out on a motorcycle that leads to the bike crashing through a window with countable glass shards, and the stream of neon colors trailing off a kiss between Guy and Millie.
Best extras: On the included Blu-ray version of the movie, viewers get four meaty featurettes deconstructing the film and its key characters.
Start with a 15-minute overview of the production covering the story’s origins, the positive themes of the movie (as passionately relayed by Mr. Levy), the director working with Mr. Reynolds, location design, costuming and the film’s love letter to the video gaming culture.
Next, take a fairly deep, 16-minute, behind-the-scenes dive into the critical battle between Guy and his buffed-up doppelganger nicknamed the Dude shot on location on Revere Beach in Massachusetts.
The segment explains the tech of actor face replacement via computer visual effects, the practical choreography of the fight, and the use of storyboards, and includes interviews with bodybuilder Aaron W. Reed (the Dude’s body) and key cast and crew.
The final pair offers seven minutes with Miss Comer on developing her characters Millie and Molotov Girl with gushing by Mr. Levy and touching on costuming and the physicality of the fight choreography.
The most fun of the bunch is eight minutes with Mr. Waititi as he appreciates not having to direct the movie while entertaining everyone on the set with his disarming comedic acting style.