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Movie Review: The Fall Guy


“Of course I do my own stunts. And I also do my own lying.” - Roger Moore

Oftentimes movies tell the stories of unsung heroes in our world and even beyond it. They might find themselves in extraordinary circumstances but usually stem from humble, unassuming beginnings. This is to create a connection with the audience in a short amount of time. If you can see yourself in the characters on screen its impact will be all the greater for it. It’s an emotion that if strong enough can last long after the credits have rolled. In the case of The Fall Guy, it’s about the men and women who bring our favorite cinematic moments gloriously to life. It’s about the everyman (and woman) making the stars of Hollyweird look more exceptional than they could ever hope to be. 

Stunt people bring to life our favorite spies, superheroes and special forces. They can take our silliest fantasies of saving the day, defeating the villain and getting the girl and in no small part give this silliness viability. They give us the chance to imagine ourselves as the hero and for a couple of hours allow us to push away the mundanity of everyday life. They are in many ways the masters of escapism. The Fall Guy is recognition of the sacrifices these people put their bodies through and the risks involved in such a dangerous line of work. They risk body and limb and all too often their very lives. 

At one point a character asks Ryan Gosling if they give awards for stunts and he replies with a solemn no. For all the moments of craziness that make up this movie, this small, brief exchange feels like a demand, that while there is currently no award celebration for the stunt work featured in film, things absolutely need to change in that regard. Until then, movies like this, however over-the-top or silly they may be, will have to suffice. With creators like director and former stuntman, David Leitch behind the camera, it would seem the heyday of stunt people is upon us. Hopefully gone are the days of poorly edited, shaky-cam action scenes whose sole purpose is to conceal an actor unable to perform the action convincingly or shotty choreography that simply doesn’t translate to film. 

The Fall Guy is a return to 80s style extravagance where larger than life stunts and characters to carry them out are the order of the day. It’s an embracement of fantastical folly where the bigger the explosion or the more the car flips the better the end product will be. Ryan Gosling as Colt Seavers is a man highly revered in his line of work. He is a stuntman to the stars. He makes the impossible happen. From car flips and vehicle explosions to free falls and setting himself on fire, Colt Seavers gets it done. 

His only apparent weakness? Her. Jody Moreno, the woman, and director, of his dreams. For her he’d do anything, like repeatedly set himself on fire for no other reason than her agitated pleasure. In the midst of redeeming himself, the unfortunate part of his job, dealing with prima donna actors like Tom Ryder, comes back to royally bite him. Seemingly in an instant, Colt goes from confident stuntman to competent man on the run where he encounters mysterious figures and fellow dead stuntmen. Things begin to go awry and he is at the center of it. Not only does his fate hang in the balance but so too does the success of Jody’s first movie as director. If she fails Colt believes she will never speak to him again. For a guy that just likes to drive fast and jump from tall buildings, he sure has a lot going on. 

Sometimes the story can take a backseat to the action sequences. Rather than the sequences coming about in any kind of natural way, they can feel shoehorned in. As if to say, this is a movie about stunt people doing stunts, so let’s do some stunts. Colt arrives at random location, big action scene. Colt has to make his date with Jody for karaoke, big action scene. Colt has to visit the restroom, big action scene. That last one doesn’t happen but you get my point. While it is effortlessly funny and the action immensely entertaining, it doesn’t always feel like the most coherent storytelling. Often it can feel like displaying fantastic stunt work forgoes any kind of progression of story or character development. It is undoubtedly massive in physical scale and it’s confident in the direction it wants to go, it never manages to overcome this feeling of being stunted(pun?). 

Despite repeatedly worrying more about action than story, The Fall Guy is every bit as entertaining as I was hoping it would be. In a movie about a stuntman and displaying the impossible tasks asked of stunt people, you could argue the action is the most important aspect and in that regard this is a damn good opening to the summer blockbuster season. 

Leitch’s confidence as a director continues to grow and while I would say Bullet Train felt fresher and more of a step out of his wheelhouse, The Fall Guy still allows for Leitch and company to glorify their favorite stunt people in grand fashion. You can feel the love that Leitch and Gosling and many others have for those brave few whose main purpose is to make others look good and then to disappear without ever being noticed. Like I said, if the day should ever come when award ceremonies decide to finally acknowledge the amazing work of their stunt departments, it won’t be soon enough. Until then however, movies like The Fall Guy will have to be the shining light for those normally hidden in the edits and shadows and computer imagery. 

The stunt work is phenomenal, the characters are hilarious and epically capable. The music adds a wonderful dimension of nostalgic playfulness pulling heavily from the glory that is eighties ballads. Gosling and Blunt in particular carry the weight of the story and do so with blazing bravado. Their chemistry is worth the ticket alone. As imperfect as it may be, I found nothing but enjoyment in what it has to offer. Its focus is on stunt performers and that’s okay. The Fall Guy aims to entertain like only summer movies can and if you ask me, it succeeds where it matters most. 

Rated PG-13 For: action and violence, drug content and some strong language

Runtime: 126 minutes

After Credits Scene: Yes, Mid-credits.

Genre: Action, Comedy, Drama

Starring: Ryan Gosling, Emily Blunt, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Hannah Waddingham

Directed By: David Leitch

Out of 10

Story: 7.5/ Acting: 8.5/ Directing: 9/ Visuals: 9

OVERALL: 8.5/10

Buy to Own: Yes.


Check out the trailer below:

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