'The Fall Guy' Falls Just Short of Great

Directed by David Leitch

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

Photo: Eric Laciste / Universal Pictures

BY Rachel HoPublished May 2, 2024


With the release of The Fall Guy, summer blockbuster season has officially begun. Beautiful, personable leads? Check. Quippy meta humour? Check. Comical cameos? Check. Explosions? Check, check, check. The Fall Guy has all the makings to be a crowd-pleasing hit — and it absolutely will be — but beyond the jokes and flashy stunts, it's simply mediocrity personified.

Breaker High alum Ryan Gosling leads the film as Colt Seavers, a stuntman primarily for Hollywood superstar Tom Ryder (Aaron Taylor-Johnson). After a stunt goes wrong on set, Colt is left with a broken back and ego. He puts the stunt world behind him and pushes away those close to him, including his now-ex-girlfriend Jody Moreno (Emily Blunt), who was the camera operator on the film and dreams of becoming a director.

After working as a valet attendant for the better part of a year, Colt receives a call from Gail Meyer (Hannah Waddingham), a powerful Hollywood producer working with Tom, telling Colt that he's needed on a new film she's working on and that Jody, who has achieved her dreams and is directing her first movie, has asked for him personally. All the motivation he needs, Colt flies down to Sydney, Australia, joining the production.

Here's where the film decides to ditch the rom-com premise it sets up: After a long day of stunting, Gail tells Colt that Tom has inexplicably gone missing. She can't go to the cops because the movie will be shut down (therefore costing her a lot of money), leaving Tom to find Colt by way of their actor-stuntman bond.

When director and former stuntman David Leitch made the highly underrated Atomic Blonde, he borrowed heavily from the aesthetic and style of storytelling that he and co-director Chad Stahelski created in John Wick three years earlier. For The Fall Guy, Leitch borrows again from a previous project, Deadpool 2 — but, unlike Atomic Blonde, which felt singular and exciting, this latest film feels like a borrowed Ryan Reynolds movie.

Gosling injects his own winning charm to the script and carries the movie with his magnetic chemistry with Blunt. But there's a distinctive attempt at PG-rated Deadpoolian filmmaking across The Fall Guy that's hard to ignore — even more so when the actual substance of this film is lacking.

In place of an interesting storyline, the movie includes some amazing stunts and sequences that are shot in a dynamic and exciting way; the movie even set a Guinness World Record for most cannon rolls in a car. Above all, The Fall Guy acts as a well-deserved tribute to and celebration of the stuntmen and women of the industry, with tongue-in-cheek dialogue about the disposable nature and invisibility of stunt performers, mentions of the lack of recognition by the Oscars, and behind-the-scenes footage of the stunts while the credits roll.

The Fall Guy executes its role as some mindless entertainment to enjoy for a couple hours at the cinema. It's definitively a fine movie — neither terrible nor great. It's almost as if the film knows exactly what criteria to fulfill to sell movie tickets and works towards that without the worry or pressure of having to create anything exemplary. Minimum effort, maximum payoff.

(Universal Pictures)

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