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‘The Fall Guy’: Gosling and Blunt Shine So Much, We Need More of Them

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I heard some other theater patrons talking about The Fall Guy as they left the auditorium, and they were comparing notes on how well the movie followed the TV show vis a vis how well 21 Jump Street did the same. I’m going to go ahead and be honest: that was the first time it even occurred to me that this movie was based on the television show of the same name. I just assumed they were two different properties called The Fall Guy.

Now, if you had asked me what the TV program The Fall Guy was about, I’d tell you, “Ummm, a guy that was framed for something he did not do?” But that would be based entirely off the name of the show, not any information I ever had. I am relatively sure I’ve never knowingly sat through an episode of The Fall Guy in my life.

(left to right) Ryan Gosling as Colt Seavers and Aaron Taylor Johnson as Tom Ryder, alongside the talented stunt doubles team in ‘THE FALL GUY’. Photo: Universal Pictures

I have now sat through the movie though! It stars Ryan Gosling, Emily Blunt, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Winston Duke, Stephanie Hsu, and Waddingham. Directed by David Leitch, it tells the story of a Hollywood stunt man named Colt Seavers whose career has shadowed that of a wildly popular action star named Tom Ryder. Early in the flick, Colt seems to have it all, until a stunt goes awry and leaves him with a broken back.

In the ensuing eighteen months, he loses everything and is left parking cars for a living. But things look up when Tom Ryder’s producer calls him up to work stunts for Tom in the new science-fiction hit, “Metalstorm”. Metalstorm is being directed by Colt’s ex, Jodie Moreno, and Colt is informed she asked for him personally.

Colt off jets to Australia to work on Metalstorm, but he’s almost immediately drawn into a mystery surrounding Ryder who has gone missing. And thus the story moves on. Can Colt reconnect with Jodie AND figure out what is going on with bad boy Tom Ryder?

TWO UPS AND TWO DOWNS

+ Emily Blunt and Ryan Gosling in The Fall Guy are straight fire when the two are together on screen. The subplot of their relationship isn’t entirely dire. Even as the movie spends so much of its runtime beating you over the head with characters basically turning to the camera and saying “Will they or won’t they, guys? WILL THEY OR WON’T THEY?”, you never for a second believe their issue isn’t an easily resolved one.

But to that I say, who cares? Their chemistry is off the charts, and they are playing off of each other so brilliantly. They could easily be a new movie power duo. Cast them as a pair in everything going forward; I’ll buy it. It’s easy enough, I guess, when they both have charm to spare as human beings. But they are working overtime to make the audience care about their characters’ dynamic here, and I truly bought into it.

(left to right) Ryan Gosling as Colt Seavers and Emily Blunt as Jodie Moreno in ‘THE FALL GUY’. Photo: Universal Pictures.

+ An Up goes to the third act’s action set piece where everything comes together, and Gosling and Blunt’s characters are working to reveal all the shenanigans. The entire extended sequence is a love letter to the men and women who make stunt work possible. The action features dozens of unnamed characters running around, setting up and paying off stunts in the big brawl. It all reads like the director just opened up his toy box of stunt crew members, threw them on the floor, and started smashing them all together.

Seldom has a moment in a flick so desperately belonged or felt so deserved for the people behind the characters. This was the stunt team running wild in an effort about how important stuntmen and stuntwomen are. 

-The overall plot ends up getting far too convoluted for the movie’s own good. There is too much going on, and too many characters. It’s just more than I want to have to keep track of in this fun little action comedy about stunt men in Hollywood getting their due.

So we end up with twists, turns, and heel turns with characters appearing out of nowhere before vanishing back into the ether where they initially came. Stephanie Hsu is bewilderingly underused. I saw her name in the credits and got excited to see her. But then she doesn’t show up until about the hour mark, and she vanishes from the flick shortly thereafter.

Aaron Taylor Johnson as Tom Ryder in ‘THE FALL GUY’. Photo: Universal Pictures.

It just feels like they wrote this long, involved plot when it really wasn’t needed for this movie. And there are points where the film has its character call out others for how complicated their plans are. But that does not absolve the movie from coming up with those plans. Just because you make fun of yourself for intentionally doing something bad doesn’t make what you did less bad!

-Gosling and Blunt’s chemistry is so spot-on, that when the two aren’t on screen together, I just wanted them to get back together. And they spend a lot of time not together in this. It’s strange that something can be such a strength that the lack of it starts becoming a weakness, but here we are: The scenes where Gosling is out on his own actually resolving the plot manage to feel like they are slowing the film down because I wanted more of him and Blunt together.

(left to right) Emily Blunt as Jodie Moreno and Ryan Gosling as Colt Seavers in ‘THE FALL GUY’. Photo: Universal Pictures.

Granted, most of the action on this action-comedy takes place when Gosling is on his own. So this is very much a Your Mileage May Vary sort of Down, but it held true for me. I just wanted them playing off of each other more often!

-BONUS DOWN: This Down goes out to the Academy for still not giving out an Oscar for stunt work. We have SO MANY Oscars for SO MANY other categories. Yet, they really can’t see fit to give a nod to these hard-working individuals? Come on, man. The movie rightly calls out this lack of recognition, too.

OVERALL

When it’s fun, it’s really fun. And I can’t stress enough how much Blunt and Gosling light up the screen. But unfortunately, The Fall Guy drags a bit in parts, most notably when that duo is separated by the plot. The writing isn’t the strongest, but it probably was never meant to be in a flick like this. This is an ode to the humble and under appreciated stunt crew worker, and it’s hard to fault it for being that. It could just have been a better movie along the way, too. 

★★★ out of 5

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