22 May 2024
The Fall Guy

Film Review – The Fall Guy (2024)

If there’s one thing that Hollywood can agree on right now – and there isn’t much on which it does – it’s that there needs to be more recognition for the stunt-performing community. Stunts have been part of the film fabric for generations and, as films have evolved, so have the stunt performers. Frank Hanaway was the first stunt double that appeared on film for The Great Train Robbery in 1903 before, five years later, the first paid stunt performer (an acrobat) for The Count of Monte Cristo was given $5 for an upside-down jump into the sea from a high cliff. You only need to look at the films over the last decade – Mission: Impossible, John Wick, Marvel, Mad Max: Fury Road, and more – to see the impact of stunts has grown, so it perhaps isn’t a surprise that a film based around the magical art has come to fruition with a former stuntman at the helm.

Colt Seavers (Ryan Gosling) is one of Hollywood’s best stunt doubles and has been working almost exclusively with action sensation Tom Ryder (Aaron Taylor-Johnson). When a high-rise drop goes awry, however, Colt is severely injured and escapes to a life of solitude and regret, leaving behind both his work and his camera operator girlfriend Jody (Emily Blunt). Eighteen months later, Ryder’s uber-producer Gail Meyer (Hannah Waddingham) calls Colt to offer him the chance to double him once again on his new sci-fi epic Metalstorm at the behest of her director, who happens to be Jody making her feature debut. On the first plane out to Sydney, Australia, Colt discovers that Ryder is missing and that his beckoning across the globe may be for something other than just a few fiery stunts and a possible reconciliation with Jody.

The Fall Guy is film-nerd nirvana in many respects: not only does it start the summer season with the required “crash, bang, wallop” that many thought would be but its sense of unabashedly gleeful fun and frolics will certainly tickle the fancy of cinemagoers everywhere. Helmed by David Leitch, of Bullet Train, Deadpool 2, Atomic Blonde and John Wick prominence, it brings his usual penchant for the fast and furious in spades, producing some of his most high-octane and awe-inspiring work to date. Backed up by his sensational array of stunt performers, not least of which Gosling, showcasing a knack for the terrifying and audacious that’s as infectious and entertaining as his recent Ken-ergy. Cars flip, cameras swoop, explosions colour the sky orange and the sugar glass budget is exhausted as Gosling, Duke, Stephanie Hsu, and cohorts throw themselves quite literally into everything that Leitch can chuck at them: for the film’s sake, we’re glad they did as without such commitment, it might have fallen with a giant thud on a concrete floor.

Of course, such a film lives or dies on its cast, particularly its romantic comedy leads: Gosling can do with his eyes closed with his chiselled features and rugged masculinity but shines doubly bright when on-screen with Emily Blunt. Their chemistry catches fire much like some of the stuntmen on the set of Metalstorm. It carries the film through some questionable plot points and a slightly underwhelming noir-ish crime thriller that feels a little jarring, even though it’s never not entertaining and silly. That said, Blunt does feel a little wasted in her role as first-time director Jody, with the script not delving enough into the world of female directors and its disparities in a male-driven world. Her karaoke rendition of a classic Phil Collins song is a plus point, as is another splendid turn from the ever-magnificent Hannah Waddingham who is the film’s ace in the hole.

As a kick-start to the summer season, The Fall Guy has enough imagination, entertainment, and over-the-top theatrics to lure many a film lover into its intoxicating, enchanting world but its muddled script and some poorly conceived jokes stop it from soaring as high as some of the audacious stunts seen on its enormous IMAX canvas.

★★★1/2

In UK cinemas May 2nd (US March 3rd) / Ryan Gosling, Emily Blunt, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Hannah Waddingham, Teresa Palmer, Stephanie Hsu, Winston Duke / Dir: David Leitch / Universal Pictures / 12A


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