William Lee is a graduate of UC Irvine and Chapman with degrees in Film Studies and Screenwriting. He has held a life-long passion for all things geeky including comics, film, toys, and video games. He was previously a Senior Reviewer for over a decade with Movie Metropolis (formerly DVD Town). Will is a regular of the convention scene in Southern California and has been attending cons since 1993. You can also find him on Facebook as William D. Lee Photography

I might fall from a tall building
I might roll a brand new car
‘Cause I’m the unknown stuntman
That made Redford such a star

David Leitch was a prolific stunt man before becoming the director of several blockbuster action flicks. After doubling for stars like Jean-Claude Van Damme, Matt Damon, and Brad Pitt, Leitch went on to helm John Wick with fellow stunt performer Chad Stahelski. Leitch followed that up with Atomic Blonde (arguably his best overall), Deadpool 2, Hobbs & Shaw, and Bullet Train. He also produced Nobody, where Saul Goodman kicked ass, and Violent Night, where Santa Claus kicked ass. It feels like everything in Leitch’s career was building to The Fall Guy.

Ostensibly an adaptation of the 80’s TV series starring the Six Million Dollar Man himself, Lee Majors, The Fall Guy serves more as a love letter to stunt performers and the days where filmmakers used wires and real explosions, instead of CGI. 

Ryan Gosling, hot off Barbie and another buzzworthy appearance on SNL, takes on the lead role of Colt Seavers, a stuntman who primarily doubles for Hollywood bad boy Tom Ryder (Aaron Taylor-Johnson). While working on Ryder’s latest production, Seavers falls head over heels for camera assistant Jody Moreno (Emily Blunt). Seaver’s career and romance are suddenly waylaid by an accident that leaves him with a back injury. Eighteen months later, Seavers has ghosted Jody while working as a valet for a Mexican restaurant.

Producer Gail Meyer (Hannah Waddingham) calls out of the blue, pleading for Colt to leap back into the fray as Jody is making her directorial debut on a sci-fi epic called Metalstorm. Turns out, Colt isn’t wanted on set just for his stunt prowess. Tom Ryder went on a bender and disappeared, putting the entire production in jeopardy. Worried Jody might find herself in director’s jail, Colt goes on the hunt with the help of best friend and stunt coordinator Dan Tucker (Winston Duke), and a French-speaking Australian Kelpie named after the Muscles from Brussels.

The Fall Guy is fueled by two things: stunts and star power. The screenplay by Drew Pearce (Iron Man 3, Hotel Artemis) is loaded with snappy banter that’s not quite as witty as it wishes to be. Thank goodness for the charm and charisma of Gosling and Blunt, both of whom light up the screen and make you believe in the love story. Hannah Waddingham is terrific as the wheeling, dealing producer while Taylor-Johnson displays his comedic chops. He pulls off a hilarious Mathew McConaughey-esque Southern drawl as Space Cowboy, the hero of the movie within the movie. And Winston Duke, best known as the MCU’s noble M’Baku, is always a welcome addition, although this is the second time he’s played the sidekick in an 80’s TV adaptation after Spenser Confidential. C’mon, Hollywood, when will he get to be the lead in an action movie?

The actual plot lacks meat on its bones, but the story is really just an excuse to string together a bunch of amazing stunts.

This wouldn’t be the first time Gosling played a stuntman, having previously done so as the taciturn lead in Nicolas Winding Refn’s Drive. He’s also wearing a cool jacket in Fall Guy, this time, it’s a crew jacket from Universal Studios’ Miami Vice stunt show, which plays a pivotal role in the third act. There are boat chases, car chases, explosions, death-defying leaps, fist fights, and shootouts. Fall Guy utilizes the movie-within-a-movie motif to great effect by cross-cutting between Colt shooting a major action scene with the final product (wires removed, color correction). Another elaborate set piece finds Colt being dragged behind a dumpster bin across an extremely crowded Sydney Harbor Bridge. Leitch delivers a veritable buffet of practical stunt work, all set to the iconic guitar riffs of Kiss’s “I Was Made for Loving You.” It’s no coincidence that the heroes use their stunt experience to fight the villains, who employ digital effects for nefarious purposes.

The Fall Guy is exactly the type of crowd pleasing blockbuster that mainstream audiences expect as summer movie season kicks off. Gosling and Blunt are a winning combination, but they play second fiddle to the wild stunts that are the backbone of Leitch’s high octane action comedy.

Film Value: 8

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