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Movie Review: “The Fall Guy”

By Bob Garver

Movie Review: “The Fall Guy”

There has been a push in recent years for the Oscars to add an award for stunt work. I’m all for it, sure, give some often-unrecognized professionals their moment in the sun. My guess is it’s going to happen eventually, given the passion of the advocates and no apparent strong argument against it. Director David Leitch is no doubt a proponent of the movement, seeing as he’s a former stunt performer himself and his film “The Fall Guy” is basically a two-hour plea to give stunt performers their due. Which isn’t to say it isn’t a highly entertaining plea. It’s just about the most fun you can possibly have watching a plea.


Ryan Gosling stars as stunt performer Colt Seavers. At the start of the film, Colt spends his days building a relationship with aspiring director Jody Moreno (Emily Blunt) when he’s not doubling for megastar Tom Ryder (Aaron Taylor-Johnson). A stunt goes wrong and Colt’s back is broken, which also damages his relationship with Jody. Eighteen months later, Colt’s back is healing, but things between he and Jody may be permanently severed.


But then he gets a call from Gail (Hannah Waddingham), Tom’s go-to producer. Tom is filming a movie in Australia, and everyone wants Colt for stunt work. And “everyone” means Tom, Gail, and the movie’s director: Jody. He reluctantly makes the trip only to learn that Jody emphatically does not want him and Gail has ulterior motives. Tom has gone missing and Gail needs an able-bodied nobody to help track him down. Colt agrees to investigate, only because this movie is Jody’s chance to prove herself as a director and it can’t be completed without Tom.


Colt is soon spending his days filling in for Tom on set, helping Jody with her film in the only way he knows how, by doing dangerous stunts. It takes some time for her anger to subside, but he’s soon back in her good graces and there’s even a hint of the two rekindling their relationship. But then there’s his night job of tracking down Tom. It’s even more dangerous, with drug dealers, gun-toting henchmen, a sword-wielding girlfriend (Teresa Palmer), and a dead body on ice. The adventure requires Colt to use all his expertise as a stuntman, which means Leitch and the movie’s stunt team get to show off all their expertise.


Indeed all the stunt work is impressive, though I feel like the film is cheating a bit by actively trying to get me to pay attention to it. And it’s distractingly smooth at times, like Colt is way too competent for a person in this position. It’s been established that he can handle stunts in a controlled environment, but can he really handle action this well in the moment when he’s unprepared? The trailer hints at the disparity between movies and “real life” in a moment when Colt decides he can’t safely make a jump from a rooftop, but there are hardly any other scenes like that in the movie. Also, it’s really unwise to have Gosling do scenes where he flies through glass unharmed when certain viewers will remember a scene from 2016’s “The Nice Guys” where his character thinks he can handle broken glass easily and faces consequences when he’s wrong.


Still, “The Fall Guy” delivers on what audiences came to see: creative, stunt-filled action and a delightfully witty romance. Couples that see this movie together are going to wish they had the chemistry of Gosling and Blunt, even when they’re arguing. Movie buffs will be equally enchanted by the love this movie has for the industry, especially stunts. Fans of well-conceived mysteries may sadly feel left out on this one. But overall, I can say that I “fell” for “The Fall Guy.” That line makes me want to bang my head against a wall. I wish I had a stunt double for that.

 

Grade: B-

 

“The Fall Guy” is rated PG-13 (Hooray! The first non-R-rated movie I’ve seen since March!) for action and violence, drug content and some strong language. Its running time is 126 minutes.

 

Contact Bob Garver at rrg251@nyu.edu.urces in your area.




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