Stream It Or Skip It: ‘The Fall Guy’ on digital, a spirited and funny Ryan Gosling/Emily Blunt actionstravaganza (2024)

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The Fall Guy (now streaming on VOD services like Amazon Prime Video) exists for two reasons: One, as stuntman-turned-director David Leitch’s affectionate tribute to his former profession. And two, to grant us, the undeserving masses, a romance between characters played by the two most attractive and charming actors in Hollywood, Ryan Gosling and Emily Blunt (it’s true and objectively indisputable; don’t fight me on this one). The film is loosely based on the TV series of the same name that aired 40 years ago, and allows Leitch to mine the things he’s familiar with, namely, self-referential humor (he directed Deadpool 2, remember) and highly kinetic action sequences (Atomic Blonde, and he was the uncredited co-director of John Wick). Weirdly, despite all the star power and the promise of a good-time extravaganza perfect for the big screen, the film underperformed at the box office – it was supposed to kick off the summer 2024 movie season with a bang, not a fizzle. Frankly, I don’t know why you ridiculous people didn’t go see this movie. It’s fun!

THE FALL GUY: STREAM IT OR SKIP IT?

The Gist: We open with a scene that isn’t supposed to be meta-, but unfortunately ended up being meta-: Stuntman Colt Seavers (Gosling) takes a brutal fall on a movie set and ends up retreating and licking his wounds, which is a metaphor for the box office performance of The Fall Guy. IT SHOULD NOT BE THIS WAY. I mean, The Fall Guy is a pretty damn good movie and Colt Seavers is a pretty damn good stuntman, and they deserve better! Colt was doing pretty great before that, doing what stuntmen do – sacrificing his body to nail all the most difficult shots in a movie while the above-the-title star, in this case Tom Ryder (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), takes all the glory and boasts about how he does his own stunts. Colt’s not butthurt about it, though. This is the business, and he knows it. It surely helps that he gets the girl at the end of the day, Jody Moreno (Blunt), the camera operator who wants to go sit on a beach with him and smoosh face after this silly film shoot is over. Too bad it ended early for Colt, who broke his back and sank into such an abyssic depression that he let a radiant human being played by Emily Blunt slip away. What a fool he is.

Eighteen months later, Colt’s parking cars and deep into schmuckdom when movie producer Gail Meyer (Hannah Waddingham) stops sipping on Diet co*ke long enough to call him. She’s in Australia, where Tom Ryder is starring in a giganto-budget sci-fi/action/romance mess titled Metal Storm. Ryder’s stunt double is kaputskies and they need Colt to come in and barrel-roll some cars and be set on fire and all that. No thanks is his reply, until Gail sets the hook: This stupidass movie is Jody’s directorial debut. The production is in trouble. If Colt comes in and nails the big action shots, he’ll save the movie. Will he win back the girl, too? He hopes so. He hops on a plane and shows up on set for this extravaganza-to-be that resembles an ungodly melange of Fury Road, Starship Troopers and Dune and boasts a logo that looks like a Metallica copyright lawsuit waiting to happen. Actually, the film REALLY brings to mind Cowboys and Aliens. Remember Cowboys and Aliens? It was a movie I regretted paying to see. What a ducking fud that was.

Anyway. Colt shows up on set, flips a don’t-call-it-a-Fury Road-car like eight times, crawls out of the wreckage and watches Jody’s jaw hit the ground. She didn’t know he was coming, and now she’s all mixed-emotions about this. Dude ghosted her hard. You can still see the glue seams in her heart. There’s a funny bit where they discuss the “romance plot” in “the script” through bullhorns so everybody on set can hear them failing mightily to pretend they’re not actually talking about their relationship problems, and then she makes him get set on fire and thrown against some rocks over and over and over again because sometimes you just need to do a few extra takes, you know? Purely the creative decision of a director, of course. Gotta get the coverage!

Afterward, Gail, who I should note is a complete maniac, pulls Colt aside. The real reason she called him here? Ryder is AWOL, and that’s precisely why Metal Storm is sh*t-creeking it right into the tank. She needs Colt to find Ryder, which subsequently finds our man wild-goose-chasing all over Melbourne, which is when we realize this movie, The Fall Guy, is spoofing action movies in which everyday people can suddenly turn into expert pugilists who’ve also mastered parkour, gunplay and whatever skill it is that dictates that one survive insanely convoluted car chases, foot chases, boat chases and, of course, explosions. Is it just me, or is this all stuff specific to stuntmen? Could very well be!

Stream It Or Skip It: ‘The Fall Guy’ on digital, a spirited and funny Ryan Gosling/Emily Blunt actionstravaganza (3)

What Movies Will It Remind You Of?: You can’t watch Ryan Gosling play a stunt driver without thinking about the greatest film of the 21st century so far, Blue Valentine. Er, I mean, Drive. Other odes to stuntpeople: Tarantino’s Death Proof, Burt Reynolds vehicle Hooper, Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. And tonally, The Fall Guy is in line with the recent Jake Gyllenhaal Road House remake, which was similar in its winking noddery to 1980s action glories.

Performance Worth Watching: I feel like Gosling has been at the top of his game since Half Nelson – and that debuted 18 years ago. (I even liked First Man. You should try liking First Man too!) That he’s capable of balancing the sad sack/badass role in this highly comic comedy should surprise absolutely no one. That said, he’s too obvious a choice for this particular recognition, so let’s give the PWW to Ted Lasso’s Waddingham, who gleefully steals a handful of scenes as the sociopathic movie producer.

Memorable Dialogue: While tracking down Ryder, Colt converses with a scummy drug dealer about his stuntman job:

Scummy drug dealer: They give Oscars for that?

Colt: No.

(Big long pregnant pause so everyone in the Academy can feel stupid about this)

Sex and Skin: Anyone else think it’s criminal to cast Gosling and Blunt as romantic leads and not even give us a PG-13 sex scene? Officer, arrest these people!

Stream It Or Skip It: ‘The Fall Guy’ on digital, a spirited and funny Ryan Gosling/Emily Blunt actionstravaganza (4)

Our Take: I would love to see all of Tom Ryder’s movies, represented on posters in his trailer: You’ve got Annihilation of Valor, Action Pact and Bad Cop Good Dog, although I think those are just slightly tweaked versions of real-life Chuck Norris movies, which are all gems, I tell you, GEMS. Where was I? Right – what kind of pissant wouldn’t enjoy The Fall Guy? Sure, it’s got its nose up its own ass, spoofing the making of movies, especially ludicrous overpriced high-concept tentpole blockbusters, but at least it references The Fast and the Furious and The Last of the Mohicans instead of, I dunno, Jeanne Dielman, 23 quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles or something.

There have been many Movies About Movies And How Great They Are, some of which we’d like to pitch into the sea – The Artist and Mank come to mind; they’ve aged like milk in a sauna – but few have set themselves up to be their own punchlines like Leitch’s unapologetically flippant Fall Guy (if stuntpeople can be psychoanalyzed as masoch*sts, why shouldn’t they also make themselves the butts of their own jokes?). Meta-comedy walks a fine line; it can be either sandpaper-underpants grating or flat as pancake under a comatose hippo, but this movie hits a large majority of its comedic marks, beginning with a joke where Aaron Taylor-Johnson’s character says it’s too easy to see Ryan Gosling’s character’s face in a shot, so they need to re-shoot it. Now, the question of whether we’d rather see Aaron Taylor-Johnson’s face or Ryan Gosling’s face isn’t worth asking. Painfully self-evident, isn’t it? It seems as if Taylor-Johnson is good-humored about this, or at least assuaged by the opportunity to play a drawling McConaughey-type space cowboy in the movie-within-the-movie. Seems like a fair trade.

The crackling comedy extends to the romantic chemistry between Blunt and Gosling, who maintain a spirited, uptempo pace that keeps us on our toes and trying to keep up with an array of rapid-fire, multi-layered jokes (which Leitch shrewdly enhances with visual and physical gags). Without that core relationship, loosey-goosey as it can be – hey, Colt and Jody’s careers and happiness hang in the balance, so don’t say the stakes are low – the film might crumble under the weight of its postmodern indulgences, which range from jokes about CGI and deepfake technology in action movies (dare you to spot that stuff here!) to needle-drops that feel like product placement because the big ones are by Taylor Swift (this one’s admittedly a great gag) and Kiss (a reworked cover of “I Was Made for Lovin’ You” crops up routinely like a co*ckroach).

I greatly appreciated a terrific sequence cross-cutting between a completely OTT car chase and Blunt singing “Against All Odds (Take a Look at Me Now)” at a karaoke bar, and the coy gender reversal of the artist-muse dynamic as Judy realizes Colt offers the inspiration she needs to get Metal Storm off the schneid and ripe for hyping at Comic-Con. The film absolutely who-careses its way through the third act, which is calculated to pay mighty tribute to stuntfolk, and therefore emphasizes the action to the point where the plot all but disintegrates. Point taken: the people who risk life and limb deserve greater recognition, no doubt. But at least they have a sense of humor about it.

Our Call: The Fall Guy is a riot. You should’ve seen it in the theater, where it’s more bigger and better and more fun, but if you STREAM IT, that’s better than nothing.

John Serba is a freelance writer and film critic based in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

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Stream It Or Skip It: ‘The Fall Guy’ on digital, a spirited and funny Ryan Gosling/Emily Blunt actionstravaganza (2024)
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