Free-standing magnesium–nickel (Mg–Ni) films with extensive nanoscale grain structures were fabricated using a combination of pulsed laser deposition and film delaminating processes. Hydrogen sorption and desorption properties of the films, free from the influence of substrates, were investigated. Oxidation of the material was reduced through the use of a sandwiched free-standing film structure in which the top and bottom layers consist of nanometer-thick Pd layers, which also acted as a catalyst to promote hydrogen uptake and release. Hydrogen storage characteristics were studied at three temperatures, 296, 232, and 180°C, where multiple sorption/desorption cycles were measured gravimetrically. An improvement in hydrogen storage capacity over the bulk Mg–Ni target material was found for the free-standing films. As shown from a Van’t Hoff plot, the thermodynamic stability of the nanograined films is similar to that of Mg2Ni. These results suggest that free-standing films, of which better control of material compositions and microstructures can be realized than is possible for conventional ball-milled powders, represent a useful materials platform for solid-state hydrogen storage research.