Movie ReviewsJosh Reviews The Fall Guy

Josh Reviews The Fall Guy

In The Fall Guy, Ryan Gosling plays stunt man Colt Seavers.  We meet him at work on set, doubling for movie-star Tom Ryder (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), and flirting with his girlfriend, camerawoman Jody Moreno (Emily Blunt).  But when a stunt goes wrong, Colt is badly injured and retreats from the world, shutting Jody out.  A year and a half later, Colt is a nobody, working as a valet.  But Tom’s producer Gail (Hannah Waddingham) convinces Colt to come back to work and once again be a stunt double for Tom on his latest movie, Metalstorm.  Gail tells Colt that Jody asked for him, but actually Tom has disappeared and Gail is hoping Colt can track him down before the press or the studio gets wise.

I really dug this movie!  It’s been a while since we’ve gotten a great action-comedy.  It reminds me of the Lethal Weapon films I used to love as a kid.  (It also reminds me of 2016 film The Nice Guys, directed by Shane Black and starring Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe.  That’s a wonderful and under-seen film; if you haven’t seen it, go watch it!  That film showed me that Ryan Gosling could be a terrific comedic performer, while maintaining his character’s emotional reality.  That’s a skill he puts to good use here in The Fall Guy!)

The film was based on a TV show from the ’80s.  (I am not at all familiar with the show.)  The film was written by Drew Pearce (who co-wrote Iron Man Three and has a story credit on Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation) and directed by David Leitch, who started as a stuntman before becoming a director; he helmed John Wick, Atomic Blonde, and Deadpool 2, among other films.

I enjoyed the tone of this film, which is light and fun, and also filled with great fights and action.  Where the film really shines is in the chemistry between its two leads, Ryan Gosling and Emily Blunt.  Both are great dramatic actors who are able to create characters who we care about and root for; they’re both able to perfectly navigate the film’s tone, bringing a comedic spark to their scenes that I really dug.  These are two true movie stars who also have strong acting chops, and they’re a pleasure to watch together on-screen.

The whole cast is great.  I loved seeing Hannah Waddingham (Ted Lasso) as the tough-as-nails producer Gail.  Gail has all of Rebecca’s stubborn tenacity without any of her heart.  She’s a fun character, and Ms. Waddingham is great fun to watch.  I was also thrilled to see Winston Duke (M’Baku in Black Panther) as Dan the stunt coordinator.  Mr. Duke has great charisma and energy, and he had a wonderful comedic vibe with Ryan Gosling.  I loved every second of their scenes together.  Aaron Taylor-Johnson (Kick-Ass, Avengers: Age of Ultron) is great as the smarmy, arrogant movie-star Tom Ryder, and I was happy to see Stephanie Hsu (Everything Everywhere All at Once) pop up in a small role as Alma, Tom’s assistant.

I like movies that are also about the joy of making movies.  I enjoyed all the scenes in this film exploring Colt’s life as a stunt-guy, as well as Jody’s struggles as a first-time director.  This film is clearly designed to celebrate the unsung stunt people who work hard to create the movies we love.  (I laughed at the scene in which Ryan Reynolds’ Colt flat out states that there’s no Oscar for stunt performers — he might as well have looked straight in the camera and said “but there should be!!”)  I did feel the film felt a little fake in the way that it depicted director Jody as being solely responsible for coming up with what would happen in the film’s third act (are there no writers around??), and also in the scenes that depicted her and Colt’s basically making up the stunt scenes as they went.  I feel like, in real life, those types of sequences are meticulously planned out.  It’s a bit weird that this film designed to celebrate the below-the-line workers on film also seemed to ignore major groups of them.

The film has a few narrative/editing problems that bugged me.  Late in the film, it feels like they cut out a whole chunk of business with Winston Duke’s character, Stunt Co-ordinator Dan.  Dan accompanies Colt to investigate Tom’s apartment and together they fight off bad-guys.  Dan says he’s going to check outside, but then he vanishes from the film, and when Colt gets captured I kept wondering where Dan was!  Later in the film, there’s an action sequence in which Gail and Tom are in a helicopter.  We see at first that there’s also a pilot, but the way the sequence is edited, we don’t see that pilot again for a long stretch of time, in a way that I thought was weird.  They’re all smushed together in this tight space in the helicopter; why aren’t we seeing the pilot??  Did he jump out?  It’s not a big deal, but it was slightly distracting and an example of the type of thing that occasionally bugged me a bit in the film.  One final example: there’s a mid-movie sequence in which Colt and Stephanie Hsu’s character Alma are involved in a car/truck chase, while Jody is at a karaoke bar.  Something about the way those two sequences were cut together didn’t sit quite right to me.  Rather than working together in a funny or dramatic way, I felt the excitement of the chase was being undercut, because we kept losing momentum by cutting away and checking in on the karaoke bar.  I understand in theory why they structured the sequence that way, but in execution it felt a bit off to me.

None of these criticisms are a big deal; I might be judging this silly movie a bit too harshly.  None of these issues impacted my enjoyment of the film at all.

I want to make note of the spectacular long take that opens the film, culminating in a shot of Ryan Gosling’s Colt suspended on the edge of a perilous drop.  That was a jaw-dropping sequence; I was very impressed and immediately locked into the movie.  Throughout the film there are a lot of really fun and entertaining fights and action sequences.  I liked that a film about stunt-people also had a lot of great stunts!!

I also really enjoyed the closing credits, which had a lot of fun behind-the-scenes footage of the film’s stunts.  (It reminds me of what Jackie Chan used to do in his films’ closing credits.)  Don’t leave before the credits!

The Fall Guy is great fun.  I know this is an adaptation of an eighties TV show, but how many people really remember that?  It feels like an original work to me.  Certainly relative to most of the rest of this spring/summer’s big movies it is.  I found that refreshing!  I like seeing an original movie concept that isn’t tied into a long-running franchise, and that’s aimed at entertaining adults!  I’m glad to have seen The Fall Guy, and I recommend it.

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