'The Fall Guy' review: Free falling fun for all


Now you know why they call me the ‘fall guy’. — Photos: UIP Malaysia

The Fall Guy
Director: David Leitch
Cast: Ryan Gosling, Emily Blunt, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Hannah Waddingham, Teresa Palmer, Stephanie Hsu, Winston Duke.

When Ryan Gosling and Emily Blunt paired up on stage at the Oscars this year, millions around the world cooed as one, instantly smitten with these two as romantic-comic screen partners. So deft; so sly; so free and easy on the draw, as the Lucky Strike ads used to say. Give those two charmers a movie!

They did. They already had. And now it’s here: The Fall Guy, which comes perilously close to sidelining its own headliners in favour of bone-crunching mayhem, especially in the second, less fun half.

Still, it’s entertaining enough for all normal moviegoing purposes. Funny, sometimes. Laden, always, with elaborate physical stunt work (in addition to all the slick, soulless digital effects) and beaming admiration for the below-the-line moviemaking subculture so close to director and former stuntman David Leitch’s heart.

I'm going to be blunt, Ryan, 'Oppenheimer' was WAY better than 'Barbie'.I'm going to be blunt, Ryan, 'Oppenheimer' was WAY better than 'Barbie'.

The Gosling character comes from the Lee Majors 1980s TV show The Fall Guy, in name only. Gosling plays ace stuntman Colt Seavers, on the cusp of the brink of a relationship with his crush, camera operator Jody Moreno, played by Blunt.

In an elegant, extended walkaround shot, nicely staged, we’re thrown onto the set of a movie production in progress, with Colt heading high up on a balcony, wire-rigged for a several-story fall. Down below, amid the controlled chaos, lounges the action megastar Tom Ryder (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), for whom Colt has worked as a stunt double for several patronised years.

The fall goes wrong; one broken back and 18 months later, his confidence blown both professionally and personally, Colt ghosts Jody out of shame, and now he’s valet-parking cars. A call from his former producer (Hannah Waddingham) drags him back into action. The Blunt character is making her directorial debut in Australia with a cowboys-and-aliens franchise sequel – from what we see of it, it looks delightfully lousy. Colt has been summoned because he’s The Best. Once he arrives Down Under, our fall guy is enlisted to locate the now-missing bad-boy movie star so the film can finish up and Colt and Jody can get back on track.

So that's why Multiple Man wasn't in the new X-Men series.So that's why Multiple Man wasn't in the new X-Men series.

The script by Drew Pearce bops along well for an hour. The second hour, plus a few minutes, gets rougher and bloodier and more sort-of-kind-of-diverting, working like a string of manic UPS drivers, delivering and delivering and then over-delivering to the same address.

The stunt work I was obsessed with as a kid, and am still, gets some respect here – stunts dependent on physical acrobats and crazy timing and visual-spatial pleasure.

Frustratingly, a lot of The Fall Guy is just one guy throwing another guy through plate glass, or punching somebody into a bloody PG-13 pulp. It’s akin to so much of what passes for action comedy these days: violence, straight up, with a little joke or wisecrack tossed in for spice. (My favourite: Gosling taking an amusingly long time to empty the busted glass out of his hoodie.)

Is this what they mean when they say 'hanging on to your every word'?Is this what they mean when they say 'hanging on to your every word'?

Director Leitch is a stunt pro to the core, but for now “funny” is secondary to his basic instincts, I think. (His most enjoyably sadistic and kinetic movie was Deadpool 2, followed closely by Atomic Blonde.)

Screenwriter Pearce wrote Hobbs & Shaw, so he’s familiar with the genre known as “people getting punched in the face in between passable zingers. His material here, pretty clever at its best, recalls Shane Black’s squirrelly Kiss Kiss Bang Bang in-jokes. At one point Colt and Jody, talking by phone, discuss Jody’s idea for using split-screen imagery in the movie she’s making, while they themselves are shown in split-screen, together yet apart. It’s a one-joke idea, but with stars like these, one is enough.

It’s wonderful to watch Gosling mine the non-verbal comedy in his character’s 50/50 swagger and insecurity. Blunt’s both a sterling comic foil and a soulful romantic one. Audiences crave romantic comedies with real wit, and the spirit of adventure, because romance is nothing without it.

If someone could write one of those for these two, I’d appreciate it. The Fall Guy will do for now. – Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service

7 10


Funny and entertaining enough that it doesn't fall

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The Fall Guy , Ryan Gosling , Emily Blunt


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