Action Comedy

Review: ‘The Fall Guy’ is an Epic Mashup of Action and Romance, All Wrapped Up in an Old-School Murder Mystery

April 30, 2024Ben MK

Ever since the dawn of cinema, stunts have been an integral part of the moviegoing experience. Whether it's silent movie actors like Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin or modern-day superstars like Jackie Chan and Tom Cruise, audiences have never failed to be awed by the death-defying theatrics put on by those brave enough to risk life and limb for big-screen thrills. It's an oftentimes thankless job for the many stunt performers whose specialty is to make the films we watch that much more spectacular. And in The Fall Guy, director David Leitch is paying homage to that industry, in this action-packed love story about one stuntman who finds himself entangled in a Hollywood conspiracy.

Based loosely on the '80s TV show of the same name, the movie follows Colt Seavers (Ryan Gosling), a blonde-haired, blue-eyed stuntman best known for doubling for one of Hollywood's biggest actors, pretty-boy diva Tom Ryder (Aaron Taylor-Johnson). Never one to turn down a dare, Colt has done his fair share of jaw-dropping stunts, especially when his girlfriend and camera operator Jody Moreno (Emily Blunt) is behind the lens. However, when his latest job doubling Tom goes horribly awry, it puts Colt out of commission with a broken back and puts a stopper on his career. Fast forward 18 months, and although Colt's body may have healed from his injuries, his mind is still very much crippled. Now working as a valet, Colt hasn't spoken to Jody since his near-death accident and can't quite figure out how to undo the damage his silence has done to their relationship. But when producer Gail Meyer (Hannah Waddingham) phones him up out of the blue to tell him Jody herself wants him for her directorial debut, the sci-fi actioner Metal Storm, Colt can't resist the opportunity to set things right.

Arriving on set in Sydney, Australia and meeting up with his friend, Dan Tucker (Winston Duke), Metal Storm's stunt coordinator, Colt soon discovers that Jody is just as surprised to see him as he was to receive Gail's call. Yet, although their reunion gets off to a rocky start, the former couple slowly but surely start to rekindle their old romance. It's a turn of events that gives a spark of hope to both Colt and Jody, who have each been struggling with their respective physical and emotional scars. But things quickly take a less romantic turn when Gail once again calls on Colt, this time to enlist his help in finding Metal Storm's star, Tom, who has mysteriously gone missing. Tasked with becoming an amateur detective in order to help Gail keep news of Tom's disappearance from reaching the studio executives, Colt embarks on a mission to find his A-list doppelgänger, a job that will see him paying a visit to some of the city's shadiest characters. What he doesn't expect, however, is to stumble into the middle of a murder mystery — one where he's been tapped to take the fall for the crime.

Written by Drew Pearce, The Fall Guy has plenty going for it, not the least of which is the charisma of its stars, Gosling and Blunt, and their on-screen chemistry. Whether they're sharing a kiss in the privacy of the studio backlot or bickering in front of all the extras and film crew on a beach down under, it's clear that both actors are having a blast with their roles. And thankfully, that enjoyment proves very much infectious, even during those times when the rest of the film can't quite keep up with its leads' effervescence. Make no mistake, the movie's tongue-in-cheek tone, self-referential humor and explosive action sequences undoubtedly make it one of the most crowd-pleasing experiences viewers will have at the multiplex this year. Yet, in spite of that, the result comes dangerously close to falling flat on its face just before its epic — and ultimately redemptive — final act.

That said, audiences won't be left wanting by the film's genre-blending mashup of testosterone-fuelled action and swoon-worthy romance. One part The Nice Guys, one part Notting Hill, and with a heaping dose of the self-parodying humor of Tropic Thunder thrown in for good measure, The Fall Guy is a charming throwback to a simpler time in Hollywood — when movies were built around the sheer box-office appeal of its two high-profile stars. And while it's hard to say whether the industry will ever get back to those more wistful times, one thing's for certain — it's fun, escapist cinema like this that the medium was made for.

The Fall Guy releases May 3rd 2024 from Universal Pictures. The film has an MPAA rating of PG-13 for action and violence, drug content and some strong language. Its runtime is 2 hrs. 6 min.

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