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‘The Fall Guy’ is a Love Letter To Stuntmen and The Movies

The Fall Guy is a love letter to the craft and moviemaking in general.

The Fall Guy review
Universal Pictures

Loosely based on the 1980s TV show of the same name starring Lee MajorsThe Fall Guy is a glorious explosion of pyrotechnics, car chases, and broken glass. 

Ryan Gosling plays Colt Seavers, a stuntman recovering from an on-set accident that left him with a broken back. He is working as a valet, nursing his injury and a broken heart, when he is lured back to the world of Hollywood action movies by hard-faced producer Gail Meyer (Ted Lasso’s Hannah Waddingham). Only one thing could get him to return to the world of rolling cars and setting himself on fire, and her name is Jody (Oppenheimer star Emily Blunt).

The Fall Guy review

The Fall Guy review
Universal Pictures

Colt is soon in Sydney and on the set of Metal Storm, Jody’s first movie as a director, starring the arrogant Hollywood hunk Tom Ryder (Bullet Train’s Aaron Taylor Johnson). Colt is off his game, much to the annoyance of stunt coordinator Dan Tucker (Black Panther‘s Winston Duke) and Jody, who really doesn’t want him on her set. 

Jody and Colt have a complicated past; they previously dated until he disappeared after his injury and changed his number. The glue of The Fall Guy is the chemistry between Blunt and Gosling’s former lovers, whose chemistry is palpable and two people who clearly like each other but must overcome their baggage.

Unlike the TV series of the same name, when Lee Major’s underpaid stuntman moonlighted as a bounty hunter, Colt doesn’t need a side hustle. He’s been working for years as Tom’s stunt double despite him constantly declaring that he does his own stunts. Tom is a satire of every bad story you have heard from the set of a blockbuster, doing minimal work yet getting the perfume ad campaigns, recognition, and salary.  

Written by Drew Pearce (Iron Man 3, Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw), the plot of The Fall Guy is thin, predictable and can easily be ripped apart if too much thought is put into it. It’s quickly revealed the real reason Gail has asked Colt to return to set is because Tom Ryder has got himself involved in shady practices and she needs him to find her. 

The Fall Guy review
Universal Pictures

The film is almost scripted too tightly, with every little reference being called back to in a later scene. There is nothing unusual or shocking about The Fall Guy, it feels like an extended episode of an 80s TV show, almost comforting in its lack of narrative ambition. Despite the script feeling shallow, the comedy mostly lands. Minus one off-color Johnny Depp gag, there are a lot of laughs to be had here. The Fall Guy and the cast are entirely in on his joke, with Colt even pointing out the holes in a villainous monologue and how it might not land with the audience. 

Any narrative beat in this movie is just an excuse for an elaborate stunt sequence. These sequences are never boring and never feel generic, lovingly put together, but people who clearly love their job. From drug-induced bar fights in neon clothing to a fiery boat chase, this movie is a death-defying tribute to those who risk their life to make good cinema.

The Fall Guy loses steam in the second act once all the twists and turns are laid out on the table. It soon finds its footing again with the thrilling final act, which sees the entire team of Metal Storm using their on-set skills to stop the bad guys. It’s fascinating to see just how many different units it takes to produce the type of blockbuster that fills cinemas every year. 

Hannah Waddingham chews the scenery as the cruel producer who only cares about the top line. Stephanie Hsu (Everything Everywhere All At Once) is criminally overlooked in her small role as Tom assistant, who really gets one scene to showcase her talents. The real star of the supporting cast is a dog called Jean Claude, who is trained to do stunts and attack but only when commanded in French. 

The Fall Guy review
Universal Pictures

This film is the perfect vehicle for Ryan Gosling’s skills, with Colt being a mix of Ken and his character in The Nice Guys. Through all the thrills and action sequences, the heart of The Fall Guy is the romantic comedy between Colt and Jody. Gosling fills the screen with his charisma, but Emily Blunt’s feistiness as a woman who is not afraid to call out her ex can easily match his energy. Her scathing put-downs and vulnerability make her feel like a refreshingly well-rounded female character for a movie of this genre.

Directed by former stunt performer David Leitch (Bullet Train, Deadpool 2), The Fall Guy is a love letter to the craft and moviemaking in general. Much like Tropic Thunder and Babylon, The Fall Guy is at its best when being meta and self-referential. Although it frequently mocks the world of big-budget blockbusters, this movie always speaks fondly of the genre and those involved in the making of them.

Grade: B


The Fall Guy

The Fall Guy

Fresh off an almost career-ending accident, stuntman Colt Seavers has to track down a missing movie star, solve a conspiracy and try to win back the love of his life while still doing his day job.

Release Date: May 3, 2024

Director: David Leitch

Cast: Ryan Gosling , Emily Blunt , Winston Duke

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