The Fall Guy brings the action comedy blockbuster back to life

Stunt man-turned-director David Leitch (Bullet Train, John Wick) pays the ultimate homage to his roots in this well-woven story that not only serves as a toast to stunt people everywhere but also as a throwback to blockbusters that didn’t require homework. It feels like forever ago (well, the early to mid-2000’s anyway) since we had a fun blockbuster that wasn’t part of a franchise or serving as a sequel, prequel or the dreaded requel. The Fall Guy offers a fun and entertaining blockbuster that oozes charm from its two main co-stars, is backed up by some stellar supporting characters, tons of comedy and some big-time explosive action sequences that stunt actors perform. It has all the ingredients for the perfect action comedy, a genre that has been recently relegated to streaming services. Fortunately there is so much to love about this movie, it does warrant viewing on the big screen with a reactive crowd. 

The film offers hilarious commentary on the state of the movie business at the moment and the amount of incredibly hard work that stunt doubles put into movies, and just how much of it goes unnoticed. This film’s main man is Colt Seavers (Ryan Gosling), who is the stunt double to one of the biggest action stars in the business, Alex Ryder (Aaron Taylor Johnson), who is a Tom Cruise, Dwayne Johnson type, who never does any of his stunts and is kind of a huge jerk. Colt is having a secret (or not so much) affair with the director Jody (Emily Blunt). After an accident on set leaves Colt with a shattered back and no confidence, he goes into hiding until he is pulled back into the industry by Alex’s producer Gail (Hannah Waddingham) on a trip to Australia to help with Jody’s first blockbuster movie. 

The blockbuster movie that Jody is making is called Metalstorm, a sci-fi epic romance that has similar beats and score to the recent Dune films, is having third act problems and only Colt’s epic stunts can save it. This is made more complicated as Alex has disappeared from the set and is reportedly in a drug-induced isolation in his loft in Sydney Harbour. Gail tasks Colt with the job of checking in on him and getting him back to set otherwise the film risks being shut down. When things spiral out of control, Colt journeys across the city to find Alex and save Jody’s film. 

Gosling is perfect as Colt, able to bring the movie star swagger he oozed in previous films like Drive and The Nice Guys. This film showcases the people who work behind the scenes and Gosling does a fantastic job at highlighting this. The constant pointing out of the lack of Academy recognition at the Oscars and that all of the fame and glory goes to the main actors, while the stunt team go relatively unnoticed. While this film doesn’t really do anything to fix that by offering an insight into their stunt performers during the film, it does allow them to really showcase the wide breadth of what they can do with pyro, a record-breaking cannon roll, many vehicle jumps and a nail-biting spinning dumpster being dragged through the streets of Sydney. Blunt is perfectly cast as the budding director, working through some smaller projects before finally getting the chance to make the movie of her dreams that can make or break her career. She is in charge, headstrong and knows the right way to treat those around her to get the best work out of them. Her chemistry with Gosling is off the charts, when they are together they are electric and this really is a great showcase for Blunt’s talent as an actress. 

Supporting cast wise there are some familiar faces here, Stephanie Hsu is an on set assistant and her brief role in this as handler for one of the trained stunt dogs delivers a lot of laughs and even gets an action scene in herself. Winston Duke plays the head of the Stunt department, and is perfect alongside Gosling for the comedy/action star character, further proving this man needs his own blockbuster with him as the leading man. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the stunt dog, who only responds to commands in French, is a beautiful addition to the cast and provides a lot of laughs and action when required. 

There is also a strong sense of nostalgia and familiarity here. If you have ever been to or live in Sydney, you will relish like I did trying to figure out where they are, what building they are in or bar, which for locals adds that little bit extra, seeing a big budget Hollywood movie like this made on our shores. Whether it’s a skip bin skidding through Martin Place or an out-of-control truck on the Sydney Harbour Bridge, it all comes down to the epic Harbour water shots with boats and gas tanks that really showcase how incredible Australia is as a setting for action films.

The Fall Guy is a love letter to traditional filmmaking, to using practical stunt actors and big action set pieces over the recent CGI schlock-fest that has invaded films over the last few years. This film feels particularly akin to the action comedies that died out of cinematic release in the early 2000’s and Leitch is unapologetic about his love for these films and attempting to bring them back. Blunt and Gosling are bona fide movie stars and their chemistry and performances here are exactly what a film like this needs. Gosling brings his goofy Kenergy to this film when it is required and successfully continues his brand of comedy that really makes the film. While there are some jokes that do linger on a bit too long, this doesn’t stop this film from delivering. The onslaught of action infused with comedy and heart ensures that The Fall Guy has what it takes to revive the action-comedy genre. 

The Fall Guy is in Australian cinemas Wednesday, April 24, thanks to Universal Pictures Australia.

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