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The Fall Guy

  • Film
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Recommended
Photograph: © Universal Studios

Time Out says

4 out of 5 stars

Ryan Gosling and Emily Blunt share a tonne of goofy chemistry in this nitrous pull of an action-comedy

Take note Richard Curtis: just because you’re making a romcom, it doesn’t mean you can’t blow stuff up. With The Fall Guy, stuntman-turned-filmmaker David Leitch and his bang-on-form stars, Ryan Gosling and Emily Blunt, have nestled a frisky, winsome romantic comedy inside the framework of an old-school, full-throttle action movie and conjured up a pretty perfect Friday night at the movies in the process. 

Gosling is Colt Seavers. He’s the stunt double of actor Tom Ryder (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), the kind of ego maniac Hollywood A-lister who claims to do all his own stunts. An on-set accident has driven Colt from the industry and cost him his girl, camera operator Jody Moreno (Blunt). He’s parking cars as a valet but still drinking the green juices and keeping in shape. Maybe a second chance is round the corner?

Sure enough, he gets a call from Ryder’s producer (Ted Lasso’s Hannah Waddingham delivering a magnificently obnoxious riff on Diet Coke-chugging Hollywood super-producers). Ryder has gone missing from the Sydney set of sci-fi blockbuster ‘Metalstorm’. Colt is needed to fill in and save the movie while he’s tracked down. Oh, and Jody is directing it. The doe-eyed Seavers is on the next plane down under and straight into an abduction conspiracy.

As a reboot of an ’80s telly show (Lee Majors played a grizzled stunt man who turns bounty hunter and entertained a generation of kids wearying of The Dukes of Hazard), The Fall Guy is much closer in spirit to the euphoric silliness of 21 Jump Street than the ditchwater dull The A-Team. A helium-fuelled reinterpretation rather than a reboot.

And with stuntman-turned-director David Leitch behind the camera and Iron Man 3 screenwriter Drew Pearce writing, its homage to the work of movie stunt professionals is suitably generous. A post-credit montage of the cast’s stunt doubles in action drives home the point that, no, that isn’t Ryan Gosling riding a skip across the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

Gosling plays opposite an imaginary unicorn with all the commitment of Olivier doing Lear

Which all ups the ante on the set pieces. They come in a steady stream of batshit stunts, chases, fights, and 12-storey freefalls – all with a noble goal of doing as much as possible the old-school way, bruises be damned.

But it’s star power that makes it all work. Gosling and Blunt are a delight together as the old flames gradually reconnect while their Hollywood blockbuster threatens to go down with all hands. One highlight has Blunt’s director relitigating their break-up as Colt is set on fire and thrown against a rock. ‘Let’s go again,’ she orders as his excuses fail to land.  

If you’re nitpicking, the noirish plot is pretty thin and keeps an enjoyably OTT Taylor-Johnson off-screen for most of the runtime, and some of the self-referential Hollywood gags land better than others (though it’s consistently funnier than Tropic Thunder).

But Gosling, in particular, plugs any gaps through his sheer comic verve and an ironclad commitment to silliness. One acid-spiked sequence has him playing opposite an imaginary unicorn with all the commitment of Olivier doing Shakespeare.

Here’s hoping for more Blunt and Gosling partnerships. And much more for Gosling’s five stunt doubles too.

In cinemas worldwide now.

Phil de Semlyen
Written by
Phil de Semlyen

Cast and crew

  • Director:David Leitch
  • Screenwriter:Drew Pearce
  • Cast:
    • Ryan Gosling
    • Emily Blunt
    • Aaron Taylor-Johnson
    • Hannah Waddingham
    • Winston Duke
    • Stephanie Hsu
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