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  • Nate Adams

'The Fall Guy' review: Gosling and Blunt headline exhilarating action comedy


Courtesy of Universal Pictures

 

Midway through David Leitch’s sturdy and insanely fun summer romp “The Fall Guy,” a character asks the question: “Can stunts win Oscars?” and the response is an immediate and deflated: “No.” Not that the Academy needed the elephant in the room addressed on this scale, especially as this film’s lead stars offered a sizzle reel at the most recent Oscar ceremony which basically was a consolation prize because, well, the voting bodies haven’t gotten their act together to figure out how stunt performers can earn the recognition deserving of them. 


So for now, “The Fall Guy,” the first non-Marvel/superhero film to kick off the summer movie going season since 2006’s “Mission: Impossible III,” will have to put the Academy, and the world on notice. Stunts are hard, death-defying work, and without the dedication and commitment of stuntmen who literally throw their lives on the line for our enjoyment, big, massive tentpoles wouldn’t be nearly as enjoyable (the exception to the rule being our lord and savor Tom Cruise). 


That seems to be the crux to 2024’s “The Fall Guy,” a movie that pays homage to the hard work of stuntmen and women as much as it is its own silly and outrageous summer flick. It’s loaded with amazing chemistry between lead stars Ryan Gosling and Emily Blunt, has a kinetic, free-flowing rhythm, and harbors a killer, nostalgic fueled soundtrack that features the best Taylor Swift needle drop since Cousin rocked out to “Love Story” in season two of “The Bear.” Oh, and the stunts, most of them done practically, come every bit as advertised. They are awesome. 


Loosely inspired of the 1980s television show starring Lee Majors, Gosling steps into the lead role playing Colt Stevens, who is both the greatest stuntman alive and doubles for Tom Ryder (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), a global superstar who spews ignorance and “bro” speak consistently. Colt is very much smitten with Jody Moreno (Blunt), a camerawoman who seems to be interested in his advances until a horrible accident takes him out of commission (and her life) for 18 months. 


Desperate, battered, and parking cars to make ends meet, Colt is called back into the game after Gail Meyer (Hannah Waddingham), the headstrong producer of Tom’s action pictures, asks him to double in Jody’s directorial debut, a sci-fi love story that's a cross of "Dune" and "Mad Max," which is currently filming in Australia. It becomes evident Jody doesn’t want him on set (she still feels jaded for him disappearing on her), and he’s been coaxed into coming because Tom is missing and Gail needs Colt to track down the performer or else the movie will cease production. 


All the while, Colt and Jody are rekindling their lost love over the magic of moviemaking. Blunt and Gosling have sizzling chemistry and throw banter and jokes at each other with a cheerful nod and thumbs up. Gosling continues his movie-star dominance following the monstrous success of “Barbie.” How can you not like this guy? He radiates, a goofy, likable demeanor and effortlessly radiates charm. Few are doing it like him and Blunt, bless her soul, commits to the bit and raises the temperature when Drew Pearce’s occasionally convoluted script gets in the way.


The pair are having a great time, and it plays well next to the juxtaposition of their character’s journey which allows “The Fall Guy” to maintain its endearing, infectious vibe. Likewise, Letich, a former stuntman, who brings an obvious love and genuine affection for the craft to the big screen, is unafraid of leaning into the towering moments. Between “Bullet Train,” and “Hobbs & Shaw,” Leitch might not always make great movies, but he understands stunts better than the average filmmaker and that’s evident by the stunning execution of major pieces throughout the movie. Especially one sequence where Jody sings Phil Collins’ “Against All Odds (Take a Look at Me Now)” at a karaoke bar while Colt is fighting for his life on a garbage truck tearing through the city of Melbourne. 


“The Fall Guy” has obvious twists, turns, and double crossings that matter more for the advancement of plot than it does for logistics. But it doesn’t matter. When your lead stars are having this much fun and leaning into the mechanics of both honoring stunt workers and creating their own little slice of cinematic pie, you can forgive some of the loose narrative threads. Ultimately, “The Fall Guy” is an old-school programmer that’s fully aware of who the audience is and how to entertain them. It’s not going to win any Oscars, however, in a different reality, I could most certainly think of one it would be in the running for. Your move, Academy. 


Grade: B+ 


THE FALL GUY is now playing in theaters. 


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