The Fall Guy Review

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Hollywood is full of hidden figures. In the case of stunt performers, they’re hidden in plain sight, concealing their faces while risking their lives with a Hollywood A-lister usually hogging the glory. Ryan Gosling has been open about doing almost none of his own stunts in The Fall Guy, a feature-length spin on the 80s TV show. David Leitch’s film isn’t so much a faithful adaptation as it is a celebration of stunt performers. Now more than ever, there’s a push for the Motion Picture Academy to introduce an Oscar for stunt work. The category might not be a reality yet, but The Fall Guy could’ve been a frontrunner.

Ryan Gosling takes on the Lee Majors role as Colt Seavers, a stuntman who endures a nearly fatal injury on set. He isn’t rebuilt into the Six Million Dollar Man, but Colt’s body heals in time. His spirit isn’t so easily mended, however. Colt is convinced to get back into the stunt vest in hopes of winning back his ex-girlfriend Jody (Emily Blunt), who’s making her directorial debut in a Dune-esque epic. Although Colt isn’t a bounty hunter in this version, he’s tasked with tracking down the film’s egotistical star (Aaron Taylor-Johnson). Colt’s life suddenly becomes an action movie as he uncovers a conspiracy. Thus, the stuntman must rise up as the star of his own story.

Gosling has established himself as a personality who’s so cool that he’s not afraid to look silly. This makes him the ideal candidate to play a character who must constantly wear a brave face, but also know humility as he takes punch after punch. Although Colt and Jody spend most of the movie at odds, Gosling and Blunt share a genuine chemistry that keeps us invested in the relationship. Hannah Waddingham is also right at home as a two-faced movie producer, although some other supporting players feel underutilized. The Fall Guy could’ve used more of Stephanie Hsu as an ambitious assistant and Teresa Palmer as an actress who’s deadly even with a prop sword.

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The real stars here are the stunt performers, even if they don’t get top billing. While director David Leitch specializes in action, John Wick, Deadpool 2, and Bullet Train were very different films. The Fall Guy is another unique entry to Leitch’s filmography with some of his most inventive action sequences. The action here strikes a solid balance between grounded and over-the-top. On a storytelling level, most of the setups are ludicrous with the final act, in particular, throwing out all logic. Yet, the audience can always sense the dedication that went into planning and executing every practical set piece, providing a behind-the-scenes glimpse in more ways than one.

Had the comedy been on par with the action, The Fall Guy might’ve been in the same league as another adaptation of an 80s TV staple, 21 Jump Street. While there are laughs in the film, they’re sporadic with the action often being prioritized. Screenwriter Drew Pearce is known for his work in the Iron Man, Mission: Impossible, and Fast & Furious franchises, but the script needed someone with a comedy background. The story is ripe for satire, but The Fall Guy plays many scenes like a straight action picture. As far as action movies go, though, the charming cast and lovingly crafted set pieces earn The Fall Guy a thumbs up.

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About Nick Spake

Nick Spake has been working as an entertainment writer for the past ten years, but he's been a lover of film ever since seeing the opening sequence of The Lion King. Movies are more than just escapism to Nick, they're a crucial part of our society that shape who we are. He now serves as the Features Editor at Flickreel and author of its regular column, 'Nick Flicks'.

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