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The Fall Guy: A Film Review
ArtBeat, Feature, Film Reviews

The Fall Guy: A Film Review 

Fall Guy star Ryan Gosling, playing heroic stuntman Colt Seavers, gazes into the camera, with the movie’s fictional film crew, including co-star Emily Blunt, reflected in his sunglasses. Image courtesy of Universal Pictures

Your life is in the balance as you hear the steady beat of the helicopter blades fading away as the wind rushes past your hot cheeks and you know the earth is rushing 150 feet towards you to greet you. Make one wrong move and miss the target beneath you and you’re done for. You shut your eyes for the last second of your fall, and mercifully feel the airbag cushion your fall beneath you. Success!

Sexy bacon, a Just Dance-inspired fight scene, and unicorn hallucinations span just twenty minutes of the 125-minute action-packed romantic comedy, The Fall Guy. The film has something for everyone: romance, dogs, Ryan Gosling speaking French, incredible stunts, and a great soundtrack. 

Emily Blunt gives a reserved performance while Ryan Gosling steals the show with his deadpan humor in David Leitch’s The Fall Guy. Starring as action man Colt Seavers, Gosling portrays the lead with earnest candor, and has the audience rooting for him all the way through. The character comes across as a genuinely decent guy, trying his best to better himself and do the right thing. He elicits laughs and gasps along the way as he faces death-defying stunts. His most daring feat? Recapturing the affections of the woman whose heart he broke. 

Director David Leitch gives us a look behind the scenes in this meta love letter to stunt performers. The film relies on a Christopher Nolan-level of inception. The Fall Guy centers on an actor, Ryan Gosling, playing a stuntman, Colt Seavers, for another character, actor Tom Ryder, portrayed by Aaron Taylor-Johnson. Meanwhile, Gosling is supported by several stunt men himself. Logan Holladay doubles Gosling for car scenes, breaking a world record for most cannon rolls (eight and a half) in a car while filming. Holladay can be seen on screen buckling Gosling into place for the scene, and helping Gosling out of the fiery remains of the car after the stunt. Stuntman Ben Jenkin specializes in parkour, and pulls off daring feats such as being set on fire and being hit by cars. Martial artist Justin Eaton performs Gosling’s fight scenes. The daring 150-foot fall at the end of the film is performed by Troy Brown, a personal best for the now 25-year-old stunt performer. Gosling did perform a handful of his own stunts, including the 12-story fall at the beginning of the film, and selections from a scene in which his character is riding a dumpster. Modern safety measures, including wires used by Gosling for his fall scene, combined with post-production techniques, have enabled actors to perform more of their own stunts in recent times. 

The trailers for the film failedto convey the plot of the movie, other than BOOM! explosions, action, and a sprinkle of romance, but the plot wasn’t the real focus of the movie. While the movie is captivating and keeps the viewers attention, it is what’s on the label to get the audience in seats that keeps the film moving: the stunts speak for themselves. Daring and impressive, the stunts are well-worth the price of admission to see on the big screen. 

The story itself has holes in it: among other issues, the pivotal plot point centers on a video on a cell phone, leaving any audience member young enough to regard Minion memes on Facebook as uncool wondering why the video was not immediately shared publicly. Incriminating evidence? Instagram it immediately and tag the offenders. It is also hard to believe that a main character in his 40s who severely injures his back is able to return to performing stunts that would send my spry 20-something self to the physical therapist immediately. Hello, chiropractor!

A high point for the film is the excellent soundtrack. With music moments from Taylor Swift, to Blake Shelton, to the movie’s KISS anthem, the soundtrack is expertly crafted to highlight the narrative. Several 80s songs made the cut, as an homage to the film’s 80s source material, television show The Fall Guy. The show’s theme song is rendered by Blake Shelton as the film’s closing credits roll, including a mid-credits cameo from the series’ stars, Lee Majors and Heather Thomas. 

The marketing surrounding the film has been extensive, beginning with a presentation from Gosling and Blunt at the Oscars recognizing the stunt community. Since then, Gosling has appeared on shows including Saturday Night Live, joined by Blunt for his monologue, and even brought one of his SNL characters to the Los Angeles premiere of The Fall Guy. Marketing also included sketches and press appearances from Gosling’s stunt doubles, furthering the objective of the film. Director and former stuntman David Leitch sought to bring more awareness and recognition to the stunt community, hoping to eventually even secure an Academy Award category for the profession as well as elevated recognition in film credits. 

The Fall Guy presents an exciting behind the scenes look at the movie industry, something that brings millions of tourists to the Los Angeles area annually, and even piques the interest of local Angelenos. The film also touches on the issues concerning the use of artificial intelligence and deep fakes in film production, a hot topic that was part of thecontention leading to last year’s strikes. 

For those further interested in the making of The Fall Guy, Peacock has a docu-series available to stream now called ACTIONThe Fall Guy—Currently at 82% on Rotten Tomatoes. Not yet available to stream, find it in a theater near you.

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