The Fall Guy (2024) Review

Writer’s note: The second paragraph of this article (just below the first image) contains a basic outline of the film’s premise. There are no spoilers that weren’t already inferred in the film’s own trailer. However, if you want to completely avoid potential spoilers, skip over the second paragraph.

With the ever growing list of films based on pre-existing material, audiences have become starved for original content. Interestingly, films based on old TV shows are (somehow) not counted among the deluge of sequels, reboots, and remakes. Films like The Fugitive (1993) or Mission: Impossible (1995) were praised for their imaginative and unique thrills, yet no one seemed to mind that they weren’t actually wholly original. The reasons why adaptations from old TV shows consistently receive a pass is a discussion for another time, but it is always fascinating to see fresh viewers rediscover an old concept as if it was new. The latest example of this is The Fall Guy (2024), David Leitch’s update of the 1981 series of the same name.

Ryan Gosling and Emily Blunt as Colt and Jody.

We are introduced to Colt Seavers (Ryan Gosling), a highly experienced stuntman, working in the biggest and most explosive Hollywood action films. He primarily doubles for Tom Ryder (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), a popular movie star loved by his fans, yet is known as a diva within the industry. During the filming of Ryder’s latest action extravaganza, Colt begins a relationship with Jody Moreno (Emily Blunt), a camera-operator who dreams of one day becoming a director. Colt sustains an injury in a stunt gone wrong, resulting in him becoming a recluse. He cuts himself off from the film business, and his relationship with Jody. Once back to full health, famous producer Gail Meyer (Hannah Waddingham) convinces Colt to be the stuntman on Ryder’s next film, but there’s a catch: Ryder has gone missing, and Gail wants Colt to track him down without anyone finding out, lest the production be shut down. Colt agrees when he finds out that Jody is actually directing the film in question, seeing this as an opportunity to rekindle their relationship. That’s not going to be easy, as Jody is still very hurt by Colt’s isolation after his accident.

From that plot description, The Fall Guy’s narrative structure may sound kind of unwieldy, given that it’s juggling many disconnected threads. At the forefront we have Colt and Jody’s relationship troubles, mixed in with an analysis of stunt work on a film set, topped off with a missing person case. That’s a lot of things to flesh out, especially for a modern action-comedy. It’s a naturally complicated set up, so director David Leitch and writer Drew Pearce solve this by delivering the simplest version of it. The relationship troubles wrap up as you’d expect, the statement on filmmaking only says “stunts are awesome”, and the villains behind the mystery plot are who you suspect. There’s not a whole lot of experimentation with all of these story points, which is exactly why they hold together.

Great stunt work.

By keeping things fairly basic, Leitch can focus all the film’s energy towards the elements which make it such a great time. The most obvious element being the stunt work and action sequences. A film with an action stuntman at the centre would be a major let down if there wasn’t an abundance of practical stunt work, so we can be thankful The Fall Guy delivers that in spades. Nearly every variation makes its way into the film’s action, as we are treated to a smorgasbord of explosive sequences with cars, boats, helicopters, jumps, leaps and of course, falls. It’s a wild ride, made even more exciting given that so much of it is done for real. Granted, The Fall Guy’s action doesn’t reach the heights of Mad Max: Fury Road (2015) or Mission: Impossible – Fallout (2018), but it’s no less enjoyable.

Right alongside all of the fun delivered by the visuals, are the delightful performances from Ryan Gosling and Emily Blunt. Both are two of the best and most likeable leads working today, and they work well together as a double act. Their on-screen chemistry is hard to resist, resulting in their solo scenes being less interesting. When they aren’t in the scene together, the editing is structured to put them on screen together. Not all of these split screen sequences are seamless, but the ones that work, are some of the film’s highlights. The rest of the cast is having just as much fun, with Hannah Waddingham, Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Winston Duke, all leaving a lasting impression. However, Stephanie Hsu and Teresa Palmer are given fairly thankless roles unworthy of their considerable talents.

Ryan Gosling and Emily Blunt as Colt and Jody.

Despite keeping things fairly uncomplicated, The Fall Guy does manage to do something slightly unique in how it unfolds the packed, yet simple story. Specifically, the film feels like a bit of a throwback to an earlier era (quite fitting considering the original show is from the 1980s). Back then, blockbuster movies were allowed to have storylines which had nothing to do with the main plot, yet still affected it. Today, every thread is expected to tie directly to the main conflict. For example, Die Hard (1988) had a B-story involving the self-obsessed news reporter who had nothing to do with the terrorist plot. The Fall Guy manages to resurrect the feeling of this classic style, but in a way which still satisfies the modern need to keep things feeling connected. Thus, viewers can be invested in the Colt/Jody story, and don’t need to pay too much attention to the rest.

More great stunt work.

Ultimately, David Leitch knows exactly what The Fall Guy needs to be, and that is an action packed rollercoaster with some very funny characters. The high energy and sure-footed confidence permeates through the entire film, making it an infectious ride despite its minor flaws.

7.5/10

Best way to watch it: After a long week.

The Fall Guy poster.
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Robert Fantozzi

Passionate filmmaker. Proud Italian-South African. Total Nerd.

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