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  • Writer's pictureBen Pivoz

The Fall Guy


Colt (Ryan Gosling) and Jody (Emily Blunt) reconnect during an intense movie shoot in The Fall Guy (Distributed by Universal Pictures)

When I think of summer movie season, I think mostly of dumb action and explosions. In that case, summer movie season has officially started. The Fall Guy is a big dumb action movie, overlong, ridiculous and prone to excess. Are those negatives? These things are baked into its mission statement, which is to create a spectacle that is both a crowd-pleasing popcorn movie and a celebration of the unheralded contributions to the industry by stuntmen.


Director David Leitch, a former stuntman himself, obviously has great love for his old profession. However, he doesn’t make the mistake of honoring it with sentiment. He honors it with over-the-top stunts that allow his crew to do what they do. Couple that with a screenplay that knows it should be silly, and two very charming leads, and the result is as good as a big-screen adaptation of the 80s TV show The Fall Guy was going to be. It is fun and amusing, even if it could stand to lose twenty or so minutes of falls and stuff blowing up real good.


Colt Seavers is the personal stuntman for Tom Ryder, one of the biggest stars in the world. After a stunt gone horribly wrong, Colt disappears into obscurity. Years later, he is called back into action by a producer asking him to help out Ryder one more time, on a massive sci-fi production that just so happens to be the directorial of debut of Colt’s ex-girlfriend, Jody. It quickly becomes apparent that there’s more going on and Colt gets caught up in a deadly conspiracy, while trying to win Jody back.

Part of the reason The Fall Guy runs for two hours (plus behind-the-scenes footage of stunts over the end credits and a mid-credit scene) is because it wants to be three different things. There is gratuitous action, wacky comedy and romance. Kudos to the screenplay by Drew Pearce for actually developing the relationship between Colt and Jody. The audience may be able to predict where things are going, but enough time is spent on them that it doesn’t feel like a simple plot device. Yes, Jody is the reason Colt shows up and sticks around long enough for trouble to find him, yet their feelings for each other, while not too deep to distract the plot from everything else, are fairly believable.


That is due to the chemistry brought by stars Ryan Gosling and Emily Blunt. Gosling is very charismatic, as usual, as a nice guy who doesn’t always look before he leaps. Though he has no problem handling physical punishment, knowing he blew it with Jody is almost too much for him to bear. Blunt walks that fine line between being furious with him and still being in love with him. Her character goes through the most change during the course of the story and she makes it all make sense in the moment. They have both been perfectly cast in roles that probably would not have worked in the hands of most other actors. Gosling can play clueless confidence better than anyone and Blunt can do vulnerable anger in her sleep. They are an excellent pair here.


The direction makes it clear that Leitch is in on the joke. Some of his style and shot choices get solid laughs. He knew precisely what he wanted to do with this story. The stunts themselves almost become a running gag, with him seemingly staging as many falls as he possibly could. The pacing drags in spots and a few scenes feel superfluous except as transparent excuses to cram in more stunts. Regardless, this is exactly what we look for in a summer movie: goofy fun that allows us to shut our brains off for a couple of hours. The Fall Guy is about as good of an example of this as I can remember in recent years.

 

3¾ out of 5

 

Cast:

Ryan Gosling as Colt Seavers

Emily Blunt as Jody Moreno

Aaron Taylor-Johnson as Tom Ryder

Hannah Waddingham as Gail Meyer

Winston Duke as Dan Tucker

 

Directed by David Leitch

Written by Drew Pearce

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