‘The Fall Guy’ Review: A Thrilling Tribute to the Unsung Heroes of Cinema

The Fall Guy emerges as a passionate ode to the brave, audacious stunt doubles, neglected by the film industry for so many decades.

The Fall Guy

During the last decade, much has been discussed about the stunt department and how the fearless, talented individuals who work in this area deserve more recognition in the film industry. From various movements to creating the respective category in awards ceremonies – unfortunately, the Oscars remain stubborn – to an unmistakable shift in the action genre – nowadays, it’s almost mandatory for an action flick to have an oner – stuntmen and stuntwomen have been increasingly valued with each passing year, so it would be expected that a movie paid them the proper tribute. With one of the most influential voices from the stunt world at the helm, David Leitch (Deadpool 2), The Fall Guy is a true love letter to a unit often overlooked by the general audience. In a mix of mystery, love, and action, Colt Seavers (Ryan Gosling), a stunt double, returns to work after an incident that almost ended his career. While demonstrating his innate talent to endure shots, punches, explosions, and being thrown through windows and tall buildings, Colt also tries to win back the love of his life, Jody (Emily Blunt), the director of the film he’s participating in, as well as unravel a conspiracy involving the lead actor, Tom Ryder (Aaron Taylor-Johnson).

It’s impossible not to start with the stunts performed in The Fall Guy. First, because Logan Holladay, one of Gosling’s (Barbie) many stunt doubles in this movie, broke the Guinness World Record for most cannon rolls in a car – 8.5 turns (!) – and, just for this, deserves that many viewers pay the ticket to see the film in IMAX. Second, Leitch not only avoids the use of visual effects as much as possible, architecting numerous practical and realistic set pieces, but also because the vast majority of scenes with a bit of CGI work have a deliberately comedic context. Third, the fact that the narrative premise generates an atmosphere of a film-within-a-film allows the audience to witness the behind-the-scenes and the meticulous, nervous, intense preparation of the multiple stunts performed in the movie and in Metalstorm, the film directed by Blunt’s (Oppenheimer) character.

The Fall Guy

At certain moments, The Fall Guy turns into a quasi-documentary about the experience of a stunt double in a cinematographic project. Drew Pearce’s (Hobbs & Shaw) screenplay shines when it focuses on honoring the men and women who risk their lives daily to perform insane sequences just to offer the best possible scene for the movie. Whether it’s passing by well-timed explosions to the millisecond, being set on fire and thrown against a wall infinite times, or jumping from a helicopter to a giant inflatable – which I believe doesn’t seem so giant when seen from above – being able to witness these moments and many more both behind the camera and in the ‘theatrical edition’ is as entertaining as it’s genuinely awe-inspiring.

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So, if the goal is to go to the theater in search of a film that offers impressive action consistently, The Fall Guy easily exceeds that expectation. If you also wish for a really fun time, Gosling and Blunt have a palpable chemistry that leads to countless romantic, but even more amusing moments. In the latter aspect, the actor portrays a character that allows for greater improvisation and a level of over-the-top expressiveness that suits him incredibly well, leading to several dialogues and even action sequences that will leave the whole screening crying with laughter. They’re two actors who simply cannot deliver bad performances.

The Fall Guy also sends a very clear message to the industry about the undue involvement of producers and studios in the creative freedom of filmmakers, as well as the toxic superstar behavior attributed to some actors. Although I consider that Pearce’s script lacks some care in generalizing such a thematic point, it’s a storyline that remains distinguished by the light, humorous context that characterizes the rest of the movie, so only those who truly feel targeted will be offended. After all, it’s a story about second chances, self-confidence, and appreciation for all the elements that contribute to the making of a film.

The Fall Guy

Ironically, The Fall Guy pokes fun at the only problem it has, probably on purpose to try to diminish its negative impact. With so many impactful, important subplots to follow, it’s easy to lose the audience’s attention with so much happening on the big screen, and the truth is that, I immediately felt the difference in interest levels whenever transitioning from captivating characters and/or storylines to others more driven by formulaic exposition and little to no emotional connection.

Technically, in addition to Jonathan Sela’s (Bullet Train) inherently fantastic cinematography – without the careful camera work to give the ‘stage’ to the stunts, these would be either overshadowed or obscured – Dominic Lewis’ (Violent Night) score stands out for the adrenaline employed in the action scenes and, primarily, for the song choices whose lyrics contain extremely efficient dramatic and comedic coatings.

See also  The Hurt Locker

The Fall Guy emerges as a passionate ode to the brave, audacious stunt doubles, neglected by the film industry for so many decades. David Leitch offers an experience full of action, comedy, romance, and mystery, highlighted by the impressive physical feats performed by the stunt department, mostly without the aid of visual effects. It’s a necessary tribute to those who risk their lives daily to elevate the entertainment power of cinema. Although it occasionally loses focus due to multiple storylines, the movie conveys a clear message about the importance of creative freedom and respect for all involved in filmmaking. With charismatic performances by Ryan Gosling and Emily Blunt, as well as an energetic score by Dominic Lewis, this celebration of cinema and the hard work behind the scenes is one of this year’s must-see IMAX screenings.

The Fall Guy
‘The Fall Guy’ Review: A Thrilling Tribute to the Unsung Heroes of Cinema

Manuel Sao Bento

Portuguese critic based in Sweden with a tremendous passion for cinema, television, and the art of filmmaking. Strives to offer an unbiased perspective and has stopped watching trailers since 2017. Rotten Tomatoes approved. Co-host of a weekly film podcast, R&M: A Conversation on Cinema. Outlets: FandomWire, Talking Films, Firstshowing, InSession Film, That Shelf, Filmhounds Magazine. Proud member of associations such as OFCS (Online Film Critics Society), IFSC (International Film Society Critics), and OFTA (Online Film & Television Association).


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