Ryan Gosling in The Fall Guy (2024)
Universal Pictures
Loosely inspired by the 80s TV series of the same name, The Fall Guy is director David Leitch’s screwball tribute to the Hollywood stunt industry. The titular fall guy is stuntman Cole Seavers (Ryan Gosling) who attempts to win back Jody Moreno (Emily Blunt), a first-time director who also happens to be his ex-girlfriend. But when he unexpectedly finds himself in a criminal conspiracy, Cole must save the day both on set and behind the scenes. 

An effortless chemistry powers this action-comedy. David Leitch’s The Fall Guy isn’t just the stuntman-turned-director’s love letter to the real-life “fall guys” of Hollywood but it’s also Leitch’s first sign of expressing actual love. Perhaps the most romantic that the Bullet Train director had been before he was filming Colossus lifting Deadpool to the tune of Peter Gabriel’s “In Your Eyes”. This time around, Leitch and his Hobbs & Shaw scribe Drew Pearce balance the adrenaline-fueled practical stuntwork with a heartwarming romance fit for a 2000s summer blockbuster. Who would have thought that the lead characters of a David Leitch film would be sharing a tender phone conversation on Julia Roberts rom-coms! The adorable romance is what prevents The Fall Guy from entering Michael Bay territory. Blunt is terrific as the debutant director who calls the shots and cynically believes that most love stories end tragically. One would presume that a heartbroken and injured stunt guy like Cole would be equally cynical but instead, he’s the goofily lovesick optimist.

The Meta-Humour is fresh and relevant. Within this spiral of high-altitude falling and constant back-breaking, The Fall Guy has enough time to poke fun at the current state of Hollywood. Leitch, much like any seasoned stunt performer, has been urging the Oscars to include a category for stunts. This plea might have fallen on deaf ears in the Academy but Pearce’s meta screenplay finds an excuse or two to shoehorn this complaint in the conversation. With the memory of the SAG strikes still fresh in the minds of viewers, a few notable scenes also reflect the normalization of “ethical” deepfakes. A stunt artist like Cole resembling an action star isn’t enough for him to act as his double. For the best results, Cole is paraded to a motion-capture booth to get the star’s face sandwiched on his. As for the filming of Jody’s directorial debut (a cosmic romance titled Metal Storm), the behind-the-scenes antics play out with enough self-aware sarcasm. Metal Storm itself (rather unintentionally) serves as a dig on big-budget blunders like Zack Snyder’s two-parter Rebel Moon.

Ryan Gosling is in his comedic prime. As the titular Fall Guy, Gosling almost reprises his Ken performance from Barbie. And it’s a welcome encore as Gosling’s effortless lovability and straight-faced humor break the monotony of his otherwise stiff and muted roles in Drive, Blade Runner 2049, and the like. After all, seeing him cry to a Taylor Swift ballad is way more emotional than him moodily driving through town with a toothpick in mouth.

Impressive stunts but an overlong finale. Gosling’s delightful lead act aside, this is the brainchild of stunt performers and Leitch ensures to give their work enough attention with even a celebratory end credit sequence. Highlighting the technical dangers and improvisational expertise of the unsung John Wicks of cinema, he sets the stage for an explosive finale that slightly stretches the two-hour-long film duration. Despite the prolonged third act, The Fall Guy is a genre mishmash that still…sticks the landing.

The Fall Guy is packaged like a silly summer blockbuster but much like the invisible, thin wire of its valiant stunt performers, the Ryan Gosling star vehicle hangs on smart satire and classic old-school Hollywood romance.