Movie Review: “The Fall Guy”


The Fall Guy movie review

It’s not surprising that there’s so much hilarity in the new action movie, “The Fall Guy.” After all, stunts and comedy have been pretty much intertwined since the beginning of film with slapstick and pratfalls and the amazing sequences of the likes of Buster Keaton, Harold Lloyd, and the rest. No, the surprising hybrid aspect of “The Fall Guy” is not that it acts as a great action AND comedy movie, but that it is also a very strong romcom. Rarely does such mayhem and fisticuffs lend itself so well to a romantic comedy formula or sensibilities, yet director David Leitch finds a tremendous way to marry the two, all under the banner of a love letter to stunts themselves. It’s a raucous and charming film led strongly by the cast with some brilliant setpieces that all together tug at our heart strings to produce a very unique experience.

Cole Seavers (Ryan Gosling) was the stuntman for the biggest actor in the world, Tom Ryder (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), until an accident on set way lays Cole, who walks away from filmmaking. Luckily, a producer (Hannah Waddingham) is there to bring him back into the fold when she tells him he has been requested to perform in a new movie by the film’s director…who just happens to be Cole’s old flame, Jody (Emily Blunt). But Cole arrives to find out that Jody didn’t request him on set, doesn’t even want him around, and, to make matters worse, Tom Ryder has gone missing. So, the stuntman sets out to find his actor, unearth the mystery of his disappearance while also trying his best to woo Jody.

Director David Leitch’s “The Fall Guy” is, put simply, utterly delightful. It’s hilarious and heartfelt in all the right ways. Written by Drew Pearce, based on the old 1981 TV show created by Glen Larson, the film revels in the true magic of the stunt world while finding a near perfect hero for its mystery. The role of the stunt guy, the unassuming person that does the dangerous stuff without any real glory, seems pretty spot on for the Raymond Chandler-mold of detective, or at least the more modernized, self-aware Shane Black equivalent. Plus it means that person is perfectly equipped should they find themselves in certain dangerous situations, amidst explosions or car flips, just as Cole is in these circumstances. It’s a brilliant idea for a character and a story and Leitch has brought it (back) to life brilliantly.

Part of that comes with his wondrous cast who do spectacular work with the material. Everyone gets a moment to comedically shine, with a handful also getting a shot to display some cool stunt/action work themselves (or at least, their stunt doubles do too). Gosling is pure charm in his down-on-his-luck role. It’s impossible not to root for the guy with his carefree quips and attempts to wade through the Hollywood craziness to find Ryder and, hopefully, another date with Jody. The actor acquits himself well in every mode—laughs, love, or car rollovers— and he’s prepared to solidly turn in a fully lived and charismatic performance. Luckily that charming front is matched by Blunt, or otherwise there would be an unequal and awkward rom at the center of the romcom where only one gets to be funny or interesting or engaging. But, like all the best romantic pairings before them, both shine brightly and especially together in ways that are irresistible. The rest of the cast acquits itself very well, with Taylor-Johnson being a particular brand of Hollywood weirdo prick, Waddingham as another type, Winston Duke appearing as the stunt coordinator and friend, and Stephanie Hsu in a small but very fun role.

“The Fall Guy” is just a supremely entertaining movie. Its main musical motif is taking KISS’ “I Was Made for Lovin’ You” and turning into all sorts of sonic mood music depending on what the scene needs—even a somber elegiac sound. There’s fun diegetic use of Phil Collins backing a spectacular chase/fight sequence that reveals the genius of Pearce, Leitch, and stunt designer Chris O’Hara. The on-set stunts are just as awesome to behold as the in-movie ones, where Cole’s dayjob is seemingly as thrilling as his night-time moves trying to solve his case. This letter of love to romcoms and stunts and action movies is an excellent time that will dazzle on screen with real human chemistry and genuinely thrilling stunt work. It’s genuinely surprising to see these sub-genres melded together so well, but it’s just another case of movie magic, I guess.


Starring: Ryan Gosling, Emily Blunt, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Hannah Waddingham, Teresa Palmer, Stephanie Hsu, Winston Duke
Director: David Leitch

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