The Fall Guy Review: Ryan Gosling Brings Kenergy to this Action Comedy

Starring Emily Blunt and Ryan Gosling, what sizzles in this film is the action rather than the romance. That’s not necessarily a bad thing
The Fall Guy Review: Ryan Gosling Brings Kenergy to this Action Comedy
The Fall Guy Review: Ryan Gosling Brings Kenergy to this Action Comedy

Director: David Leitch

Writer: Drew Pearce

Cast: Ryan Gosling, Emily Blunt, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Hannah Waddingham, Teresa Palmer, Stephanie Hsu and Winston Duke

Run-time: 126 minutes
Available in: Theatres

Before The Fall Guy begins, director David Leitch — once a stuntman himself and body double for Brad Pitt — and lead actor Ryan Gosling instruct the audience to turn their cell phones off and state the purpose of making this film. It’s an all-heart love letter to stunt performers, who “take all of the hits and get none of the credit.” You could raise an unconvinced eyebrow at this tactic of breaking the fourth wall right at the outset, arguing that this would only serve to pull an audience out of the story instead of immersing them in the world of the film. The Fall Guy chips away at that fourth wall repeatedly over the course of its run-time, weaving in moments of meta commentary that are amusing but also interruptions. How, then, do you stay engaged?

Enter: Ryan Gosling, who gleefully channels the Kenergy he perfected in Barbie (2023) to create a hero who is charming, goofy and still charismatic enough to keep your adoring gaze glued to the screen. In The Fall Guy (which is based on the Eighties’ television series of the same name), Gosling plays Colt Seavers, a stunt double for hotshot action star Tom Ryder (a campy Aaron Taylor Johnson). When we first meet Colt, he is also secretly romancing Jody Moreno (Emily Blunt), a camera operator who aspires to direct her own Hollywood blockbuster. After a near-fatal accident during a stunt, Colt retreats from the world of film, unceremoniously ending his fling with Jody. Eighteen months later, Colt finds himself back on set as a stuntman. The film is titled Metalstorm, a Dune-parodying sci-fi romance between an alien and a cowboy, and the director is… Jody. 

Ryan Gosling in The Fall Guy
Ryan Gosling in The Fall Guy

Spotlight on Gosling

Much of The Fall Guy’s appeal lies in its light comedy. There’s a running gag about how Colt can never drink a cup of coffee without being interrupted; a dog that only responds to inappropriate French commands, a stately unicorn that shows up a couple of times to remind us that a character is high as a kite. At one point, stuntman extraordinaire Colt wishes there was a flight of stairs so he wouldn’t have to have to do a death-defying high-jump in order to escape his pursuers. 

While Blunt has to wait until the third act of The Fall Guy to come into her own, Gosling has the time of his life as a stuntman who becomes the hero when Tom disappears, threatening the fate of Jody’s Metalstorm. Cleverly, the script allows Gosling to establish his machismo through action sequences while also giving his Colt bouts of vulnerability and many witty one-liners. The film pokes fun at more than one Hollywood cliché and even tips its hat to Swifties by giving Colt a little emo moment in which he sits in his car and weeps to Taylor Swift’s “All Too Well”. Gosling plays this scene with such absurd sincerity that it’s impossible to keep a straight face. 

Gosling and Blunt broke the internet during this year’s Oscars, when they came on stage as presenters and played on the craze that was Barbenheimer. Their little sketch had Blunt and Gosling trying to one-up the other and was quite obviously a teaser for their banter in The Fall Guy. If you were hoping for sizzling chemistry, then manage your expectations because this is not that kind of a romance. Between Blunt and Gosling, there is less crackling sexual tension and more endearing awkwardness. It works because they make you believe in it. 

Blunt, who stated Greta Gerwig as an inspiration for Jody, is lovely as the harried first-time director — a little bit in over her head, but who knows exactly what she wants. Another character sneeringly refers to Jody as “mouldable” towards the end of the film; Jody punches her squarely in the face. It’s a glorious moment that makes you wish Blunt had more to do in the earlier parts of The Fall Guy.

Ryan Gosling and Emily Blunt in The Fall Guy
Ryan Gosling and Emily Blunt in The Fall Guy

Stunted by the Details 

Jody repeatedly mentions how she’s having trouble writing the third act of her fictional film, especially with increasing pressure from producers who don’t align with her vision. They want the cookie-cutter happy ending, she wants her film to be more “realistic”. Considering how The Fall Guy struggles in its final sections, the parallel feels pointedly relevant. In its final act, there are many cute and quirky moments, but by this point, the meta commentary feels worn out. Real and reel keep slipping into one another. When Jody wonders if using a split-screen would be gimmicky, our own screen is cleaved in two, with Jody in one half and Colt in the other. Colt muses out loud if people would be able to understand the metaphor. During the aforementioned troublesome third act, we get the obligatory monologue from the villain, which Colt points out is too exposition-heavy and may end up losing the audience. Bingo.

The Fall Guy is clearly borne of a great love for action, as evidenced by its many nods to other films from the genre (there are quotes from Rocky, Fast and Furious, The Fugitive and Taken, as well as references to James Bond and Jason Bourne). However, the film’s own action scenes, while being slickly executed, fail to register as visually distinct or exceptional. Some of this may be because technicians like Leitch have raised the bar for action choreography with the work they’ve done for other films. The net result as far as The Fall Guy is concerned is that even its most elaborate spectacles — the extended car chase on Sydney Harbour Bridge, for example — feels more derivative than original. The climax unfolds on the set of Metalstorm, in a vast, sandy desert that invokes the worlds of Mad Max and Indiana Jones. One of the best action sequences in the film is also its most unexpected, when Jody beats up a man who sneaks into her trailer; Blunt is vicious, unpracticed and seriously badass, which is what you’d expect from anyone who’s held her own next to Tom Cruise as Blunt did in Edge of Tomorrow

There’s something warm and eminently likeable about The Fall Guy, even when the film is at its weakest. The extended climactic sequence, while more than a little ridiculous, sees Metalstorm’s stunt department come together to fight those at the top of the power hierarchy, taking charge of an environment that gives them little recognition but with which they are intimately familiar. As the credits roll, we see a long, long list of stunt performers who contributed to the making of The Fall Guy. We also see behind-the-scenes footage of how some of the film’s stunts were shot, particularly an impressive sequence that set the Guinness World Record for the most cannon rolls performed in a car (eight and a half rolls, executed by stunt driver Logan Holladay). It’s silly, over-the-top and just a little overlong, but The Fall Guy is a fun summer actioner with its heart firmly in the right place.

Related Stories

No stories found.