The Fall Guy review — Gosling and Blunt bring the star power

Directed by David Leitch | Written by Drew Pearce, based on the TV show by Glen A. Larson | 126 min | ▲▲▲△△ | In Cinemas 

Now, this is a summer blockbuster. It’s dumb as a bag of hammers but dancing as fast as it can to entertain its audience. The Fall Guy is a throwback — and not just because it’s based on a barely remembered TV show from the 1980s. It forefronts its stars, a mostly original story, and a whole lot of real-world stunts rather than heavy computer generated imagery.  That last part feels fresh in 2024, and probably the best reason to go see this entertaining action comedy.

Ryan Gosling and Emily Blunt are two other good reasons. The movie really sings when the respective stars of last summer’s Barbie and Oppenheimer are together on screen, even when they share it in a self-referential split-screen moment that’s both clever and funny. In every way this is a massive improvement over stunt performer-turned-director David Leitch’s last film, the abysmal Bullet Train, which was an action comedy with little of the charm of this effort.

All that said, the plotting is a bit of a mess. Gosling is Colt Seavers, a stunt performer who’s injured on set and takes a leave of absence from his professional life and a colleague he was dating, Jody Moreno (Blunt). Flash forward 18 months and Jody’s in Australia getting her shot to direct a big-budget science fiction picture, Metal Storm (no apparent relation to this 1983 b-movie, but with so many other nods to the 1980s, who knows).

The producer, Gail Meyers (an extraordinarily high-energy Hannah Waddingham, though is she ever anything else?) recruits Colt, saying Jody has asked for him specifically. She hasn’t, but Colt still shows up for a big stunt on a beach, flipping a car multiple times.

First off, who does a dangerous stunt like that without rehearsing it for weeks? It’s clear Leitch and his collaborators have cast aside any effort at realism for the sake of having some fun. But this isn’t a romcom with stunts, which I would’ve been on board with — a thriller element is shoehorned in, unfortunately splitting up our fetching leads for a little too much of the running time.

The star of Metal Storm, Tom Ryder (Aaron Taylor-Johnson, frankly at a charisma deficit in this company) has disappeared. Gail asks Colt to look into it and get him back on set before the whole production crumbles. This denies us the pleasure of finding out what song Colt would have chosen at crew karaoke, though Jody goes with Phil Collins’ “Against All Odds,” and does a terrific job with it.

Since the nature of Tom’s disappearance never seems terribly pressing — he likes to party and be a jerk, so there’s little jeopardy around him being gone — the pleasure of the picture is generated from hanging with Gosling and spotting all the references to other, stunt-heavy Hollywood pictures, from Dune to Mad Max: Fury Road to Miami Vice (though more the series than the underrated feature).

The action sequences are handled with lots of aplomb, from the hand-to-hand stuff to the vehicular mayhem on the streets of Sydney. Also, full marks to the music supervisors — having the Kiss classic “I Was Made For Loving You” serve as the theme for the entire soundtrack is low-level genius, and means I’ll be hearing the song in my dreams for a week, I’m sure. (And that’s no criticism.)

Would the script have benefitted from another pass to punch up the dialogue and comedy, maybe give any of the supporting cast (including talents like Stephanie Hsu and Winston Duke) one memorable line or personality trait? Sure. Does everything else going on feel like the kind of welcome distraction Hollywood has been serving up in summer blockbusters since the 1970s? Indeed it does. It goes well with buttery popcorn, and that’s what makes it work.

About the author


Carsten Knox is a massive, cheese-eating nerd. In the day he works as a journalist in Halifax, Nova Scotia. At night he stares out at the rain-slick streets, watches movies, and writes about what he's seeing.