Review ‘The Fall Guy’

What do you get when you put a stuntman in the middle of a murder mystery on a movie set? Well, it turns out you get one of the funniest, most exciting, and energetic movies of the year. Although this is certainly not David Leitch’s debut film, his passion and admiration for the film industry shine through so genuinely that it’s impossible to not consider this his best work. This film is a heartfelt ode to movie-making, to stunt performers and to cinephiles around the world.

The Fall Guy follows Colt Seavers (Ryan Gosling) while working as a stuntman on the science fiction epic his ex-girlfriend Jody Moreno (Emily Blunt) is currently directing. Awkward. Although we can easily watch the smooth banter between the pair, things get dicey when movie star Tom Ryder (Aaron Taylor Johnson) goes missing and threatens the future of the production. Afraid Jody will lose her chance to finally achieve her dreams as a director, Colt goes looking for Tom and encounters more than a few interesting obstacles along the way.

Watching this movie is the most fun I’ve had at the theater in years. Gosling fans will find themselves short of breath repeatedly throughout its runtime and are undoubtedly in for a good run. Gosling oozes charisma—more than usual—and really leans in to a comedic persona that rivals his performance in Crazy Stupid Love. Sure, he was great in Barbie but this… this performance is different and better. And no other movie star at his level could’ve played this character with the necessary humility and ingenuity that Gosling brings to this role. His chemistry with Blunt is palpable and every interaction between them, although on a massive soundstage-sized scale, feels so intimate and relatable.

Naturally, a film about a stuntman is full of electrifying stunts. The choreography and stunts in The Fall Guy are astronomically well executed. They are fun, outrageous, tie into the story every time and really push the envelope. The soundtrack is absolutely incredible. Each song pairs so well with every scene it’s featured in and it truly pulls everything together while the editing brings those exterior elements to life.

I’ve heard some other creators and critics in the space call this movie ‘long’ or ‘unnecessarily convoluted’ and I couldn’t disagree more. It also bothers me when people say this story isn’t strong or well written. I think the writing in this movie is outstanding and particularly a lot better than Leitch’s other films. While watching, it’s evident this story was constructed through the imagining of its different sequences, not just a story written from credits to credits.

This movie is based on an episodic television show with the same name and premise. Which means in every episode, the protagonist is on a different adventure. Maybe there’s an overarching antagonist or storyline, but each episode is unique in a few ways… whether that’s the plot, the tone, or the trail of growth for our protagonist. And one can tell that’s how Leitch built this movie… with sequences in mind to mirror the episodic adventures this hero went on in the 1980’s series. Think about it—there’s the nightclub sequence, the street fight sequence, the boat chase, the apartment, the final desert showdown. Each of these were constructed individually and woven together to create something symbiotic and cohesive, while delivering a new adventure with the same lovable character over and over. So I can’t disagree more—I don’t think this movie was too long or poorly written. I also don’t think it’s convoluted or hard to follow. Sure, the plot of intrigue surrounding the murder isn’t necessary because we could’ve just watched Ryan Gosling and Emily Blunt go back and forth for ninety minutes… however it makes the movie exciting and puts our protagonist through just enough of a challenge that it pulls something new out of him.

There’s also a lot of imagery people are missing here. Any time he’s talking to Jody over the phone or walkie talkie, there’s always a shining light somewhere in the frame. At the start of the movie when Colt’s in the elevator and still too afraid to accept his feelings for Jody, he’s facing away from the light while talking to her. But later when he finally confesses his feelings on the boat, he’s driving towards the light. This shows how he’s ready to accept her love, despite the darkness around them.

Not only does this film have the perfect box office formula, but it stands out due to its rewatchability factor. This is one of those movies you can screen over and over and laugh every time, cry every time, and fall in love with Ryan Gosling every time. It is so jam-packed with stunts and comedy that it warrants more than one viewing. It is also versatile in its appeal to audiences—everyone can watch this movie with everyone. It’s great to watch with your family, your friends, your significant other… even your grandparents will love this movie! It is so much fun and I am counting the days until I can watch it again.

Here’s the thing about The Fall Guy and why I think it’s going to be so successful. Not only do we as movie lovers have a soft spot for movies about movie making, but this one in particular does an excellent job in bringing audiences in on the experience. Because of the nods to other movies and actors, audiences feel like they’re in on the jokes like they’re seen and understood, like they’re a part of the movie magic that gives them that indescribable feeling everyone movie fan knows but can’t always articulate. This film is for film lovers, for people who love movies, and that’s why it will do so well. It’s even stated before the movie by the director and lead actor that they thought about the audience every day on set. What we would want to see, how we would react, what would make us love this movie. That effort shines through and is the reason we love this movie so much.

Watch the trailer for The Fall Guy below 

Universal Pictures releases The Fall Guy in theatres everywhere May 3, 2024

[Review by guest blogger Jurgen Sosa]