The Fall Guy

Review by Rich Cline | 3.5/5

The Fall Guy
dir David Leitch
scr Drew Pearce
prd Guymon Casady, Ryan Gosling, David Leitch, Kelly McCormick
with Ryan Gosling, Emily Blunt, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Hannah Waddingham, Winston Duke, Teresa Palmer, Stephanie Hsu, Ben Knight, Matuse, Adam Dunn, Zara Michales, Ioane Sa'Ula, Jason Momoa, Lee Majors, Heather Thomas
release US/UK 3.May.24
24/US Universal 2h06

taylor-johnton waddingham duke

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gosling and blunt
Using only the title and a couple of character names from the 1980s TV series, this riotously messy action comedy borrows rather a lot more from Richard Rush's 1980 classic The Stunt Man. Director David Leitch piles on meta gags about moviemaking, which makes it very entertaining. But the plot is badly overworked to connect the jokey set-pieces. Thankfully, the gifted cast members fully dive in to the mayhem.
After a near-fatal on-set accident, stunt man Colt (Gosling) quietly retires while his camera operator girlfriend Jody (Blunt) achieves her dream to write and direct a sci-fi epic. Then her producer Gail (Waddingham) tempts Colt to back to work on Jody's film, which is shooting in Sydney with Colt's usual leading-man star Tom (Taylor-Johnson) and his stunt coordinator friend Dan (Duke). But Colt discovers that Jody is furious with him, Tom has gone missing, and Gail wants Colt to find him. Then Colt stumbles into a murder mystery that gets increasingly dangerous, even for him.
Jaw-dropping stunts fill the screen, adding irony as they are performed by stunt experts who are only revealed in the closing credits. There's even a fantastic stunt dog. Every scene nods to the history of cinematic action, with blatant references interspersed with several that are more understated. And the script gleefully plays with movie production itself, from life on a set to the difference between what it takes to get the shot and what the audience sees on the screen. Refreshingly, Leitch films much of this without digital trickery.

The plot revolves around the corny romance between Colt and Jody, which is played with maximum spark by Gosling and Blunt, who exude chemistry even when they're at each others' throats. The barbed banter between them is smart and funny, even if it sometimes goes over the top. And the surrounding cast also shines, with unsurprising standouts being Taylor-Johnson's amusingly obnoxious superstar and Waddingham's slippery fast-talking. Duke and Hsu (as a dog handler) make the most of smaller roles, and one of the cameos soars.

There's plenty to enjoy here, including the high-energy glimpse behind-the-scenes of a blockbuster that looks like a mash-up of Mad Max, Dune and The Fast and the Furious. It's a shame that the plot is so contrived and convoluted that the dialog never feels as funny as it should. But this is the kind of movie that will keep film fans chuckling at the witty details, while its cartoonish excesses will entertain everyone in an unapologetically mindless sort of way.

cert 15 themes, language, violence 29.Apr.24

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© 2024 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall