2nd May 2024

The Fall Guy review: Ryan Gosling and Emily Blunt are dreamy

After two duds in a row, director David Leitch rights the ship with an all-out blast of a movie that’s fuelled by the explosive chemistry between its gorgeous and extremely talented leads.

Akhil Arora, a member of the Film Critics Guild and a Rotten Tomatoes-certified film critic, who has been reviewing movies and TV series since 2015. He has written for NDTV and SlashFilm.

Ryan Gosling in The Fall Guy movie
Ryan Gosling in The Fall Guy // Photo: Eric Laciste/Universal Pictures

Filmmaking can be incredibly complex but sometimes, all you need are two beautiful people who light up the screen together. Ryan Gosling and Emily Blunt are proof. On The Fall Guy—the new action comedy mystery romance movie from Deadpool 2 director David Leitch—the two showcase movie star charisma from the moment we first lay eyes on them. You can’t help but fall in love. They share incredible chemistry, the kind that pulls you into the film and makes you forget everything. Their mutual magnetism is so powerful that you’re always looking forward to the next time they will be in the same frame whenever they are not. The back and forth between them goes down so smoothly—it helps that Gosling has excellent comedic timing, as everyone saw in last year’s Barbie.

The Fall Guy delivers on comedy + action

The Fall Guy is, hence, a joy. Spritzy and fleetfooted, the comedy flies thick and fast. Blunt and Gosling deliver their lines, land on the pauses, and glance at each other with laser precision. It feels machine-engineered. Leitch understands that fun is an underrated element in Hollywood blockbusters today, and on The Fall Guy, he’s out to constantly keep you entertained. The stuntman-turned-director knows good action (as he proved in the Charlize Theron-led Atomic Blonde) but here, he shows he can handle the comedy in the action and the comedy without the action. Those are three very different skills. In fact, the film might be at its best when its two leads—Blunt and Gosling—are merely sharing an intimate conversation in any number of situations.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot of action in The Fall Guy. And really good action, too. Leitch and Co.—including “stunt designer” Chris O’Hara, a new credit established with this movie—craft some exciting and glorious action stunt sequences that aren’t bogged down by a CGI mess, narrative mistakes, or half-baked wittiness. This was the problem with Bullet Train and Fast & Furious: Hobbs & Shaw, Leitch’s two previous films. The Fall Guy succeeds because it’s genuinely funny and we care for the characters. Admittedly, the movie is slightly overlong, but the coherent action, the on-point comedy, and the thrilling chemistry between its stars ensure pure popcorn entertainment. A delight in every sense, The Fall Guy is Leitch’s best film by far.

Emily Blunt in The Fall Guy movie
Emily Blunt in The Fall Guy // Photo: Eric Laciste/Universal Pictures

Ryan Gosling tries to save the movie within the movie

Eighteen months after a near career-ending accident, seasoned stuntman Colt Seavers (Gosling) has given up on the joys of his life—including his camera operator girlfriend, Jody Moreno (Emily Blunt)—and works as a valet. So, when overbearing producer Gail Meyer (Hannah Waddingham, from Ted Lasso) calls him up out of the blue and asks him to fly to Sydney for a new gig, Colt has no interest. But his ears perk up after he learns that the director is none other than Jody. Arriving in Australia, Colt soon learns that the film’s lead star, Tom Ryder (Aaron Taylor-Johnson, from Bullet Train), has gone missing. Not wanting Jody’s first movie to be a failure, Colt sets out in search of the guy he used to double for, which gets him mixed up in something much more sinister.

While Gosling has more of the movie to himself by the nature of the narrative, The Fall Guy works much better when it allows Blunt and Gosling to just be. (The fact that many dialogue-heavy scenes are long tracking shots certainly helps.) For much of the early running, an aggrieved Jody runs Colt through the wringer, still annoyed over how things ended between them and that he never cared to address it. She expertly uses her position as director to make him suffer—and it’s a joy to behold. In other places, it’s a lot more tender. Some of the best scenes involve the film-within-the-film conceit, what with the characters in Jody’s movie serving as a parallel to her real-life unresolved issues with Colt. As they talk about the unfinished third act, they’re really talking about themselves.

‘Is there an Oscar for that?’

That meta-ness extends to the film’s structure. In one scene, as Colt and Jody speak over the phone, she wonders if it might be wise to use the split-screen tool for her film’s finale. The Fall Guy itself switches into split-screen during this conversation. It’s clever, especially as it makes great use of it. While Colt and Jody talk, the former also goes about investigating the missing person’s case. The Fall Guy shows the power of split-screen as it pushes forward its romantic narrative and action-driven mystery. At the same time.

Emily Blunt and Ryan Gosling in The Fall Guy movie
Emily Blunt and Ryan Gosling in The Fall Guy // Photo: Universal Pictures

On top of that, there’s no shortage of movie references. Dan Tucker (Winston Duke, from Black Panther)—the stunt coordinator on Jody’s movie—regularly quotes lines at Colt. Colt roams about proudly wearing a jacket from his days on the stunt team of the Miami Vice TV show. The accompanying exposition later turns into a hilarious foreshadowing moment. Alongside, there are potshots at Hollywood and the egos of stars, especially those who make a big deal about doing their own stunts. (Tom Ryder is essentially a play on Tom Cruise.)

There’s even a pointed acknowledgement of how there are no Oscars for stunts. All of the pain but none of the glory. Leitch served as a stunt double and coordinator for years before he got into the director’s chair (with John Wick). And like many in his cohort, he is very vocal about what it takes to deliver the action in action movies. With The Fall Guy, Leitch gets to showcase just that, highlighting what stunt performers are put through for the enjoyment of audiences. (A behind-the-scenes end credits reel further pushes on that point.)

The Fall Guy is the movie David Leitch has been trying to make

Ultimately, The Fall Guy is a riotous time at the movies. Fuelled by the explosive chemistry between Gosling and Blunt, it delivers a combination of silly action and tongue-in-cheek romance that never fails to entertain. That makes it kind of old-fashioned, a bit of a throwback. (The Fall Guy is actually inspired by the 1980s TV series of the same name but that’s almost tangential to the whole thing.) The cartoonish subplots and environment add to the feel. In fact, the film is at its weakest when it tries to be emotional and sincere about the connection between Colt and Jody. As long as it’s having a ball, it’s great. (It also suffers whenever it’s Gosling-heavy, as the lead pair are central to the charm. The others play their parts well.)

This is the movie Leitch has been trying to make ever since Deadpool 2. There, he struggled with generic action while Ryan Reynolds was seemingly responsible for where the film succeeded. Hobbs & Shaw was a disaster on nearly every front, and there were too many annoying parts to Bullet Train. With The Fall Guy, Leitch has finally found the right balance of comedy, action, and goofiness. After his last two movies, I questioned Leitch—and, in turn, the Hollywood producers who banked on him. The Fall Guy proves that he can deliver with the right ingredients.

The Fall Guy is now playing in cinemas worldwide. It released on April 24 in Australia and New Zealand, April 25 in Singapore, May 2 in Ireland and the UK, and May 3 in the US, Canada, and India.

Akhil Arora

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