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Ryan Gosling and Emily Blunt Redefine the Romantic Action Comedy in An Ode to Stunt Performers (and Taylor Swift) in 'The Fall Guy'

"I had no choice. I had to do some Jason Bourne shit!"

Colt Seavers (Ryan Gosling) is one of the most talented stuntmen in the film business. He is wildly good-looking and adept at taking a punch, being lit on fire, or falling from immense heights. As his career continues to blossom, so does his love affair with Jody Moreno (Emily Blunt), an aspiring director whose work alongside executive producer Gail Meyer (Hannah Waddingham) has provided some well-known blockbuster productions starring leading action star Tom Ryder (Aaron Taylor-Johnson).

Colt is the ego-centric Tom Ryder's go-to stunt double, even though the famous movie star prefers to lie to the press that he does his own stunts. As most stunt performers understand, their work is relegated to behind-the-scenes action set pieces, while the A-list actors get all the credit. But Colt informs the audience of "The Fall Guy" through voice-overs that he takes pride in his work as he flirts with Jody, always encouraging her to follow her directing dreams.

A freak film set accident sidelines Colt's stunt career and his romantic intentions with Jody as the once-great Colt Seavers hangs up his harness and retires from the industry. Cut to 18 months later, the former action choreographer-turned valet is called to Sydney, Australia, for one last shot to double for Tom Ryder. The kicker is that the new action flick is Jody's directorial debut, and she is PISSED when she discovers Colt has joined the film.

Mystery surrounds the Australian-based film set as Colt's lookalike Tom Ryder goes missing. Still harboring feelings for Jody and wanting her directorial effort to succeed, Colt volunteers to locate the movie star in hopes of saving his ex-girlfriend's big movie. However, he runs into obstacles that threaten his life, relationship with Jody, and reputation, and he resorts to teaming up with an old canine actor he once worked alongside.

Directed by former stunt coordinator and filmmaker David Leitch ("Atomic Blonde," "Bullet Train"), "The Fall Guy" is a self-described love letter to the below-the-line crews that work an often thankless and invisible job in the film industry. These talented performers are hardly ever heard from, but almost every action movie requires their involvement. Ignored by audiences for years, these stunt men and women finally get the film they deserve. It's a smart, charismatic, action-packed extravaganza that gives new meaning to what it takes to be a movie star.

"The Fall Guy" is a romantic comedy wrapped in an action thriller that satisfies a multitude of genres in a genuinely heartfelt way. What Gosling and Blunt do in this movie is nothing short of marvelous, achieving the difficult task of making their audiences laugh while providing some of the best action sequences in recent memory. Their chemistry is kinetic, largely due to Gosling's powerful way of letting the audience in on the barrage of jokes as his character stumbles, falls, jumps, punches, kicks, and drives his way to victory.

The cast of this vehicle is tremendous, including Winston Duke ("Us") as Colt's stunt coordinator and Stephanie Hsu ("Everything Everywhere All at Once") as Tom Ryder's kickass personal assistant. Everyone from Blunt to Waddingham has their shot at an action sequence worthy of blockbuster proportions, even in times when least expected to have an explosion set off or the need to scale a tall building only to dive headfirst into Sydney Harbour. 

But so much of what works well in "The Fall Guy" comes down to Leitch's direction and deep understanding of the stunt world. There is a particular scene where Colt is set ablaze several times in succession at Jody's request while simultaneously thrown against a boulder, obviously performed by a talented stunt performer and not Gosling himself…but it's made to look authentic and gets some of the biggest laughs in the whole movie. Many moments like this elevate what could have been a straightforward action comedy, but Leitch and company make this film an absolute blast to watch.

Some dynamite songs are dropped into the mix to assist in montage sequences of Colt and Jody's entanglements, including a specific Taylor Swift rendition that gives Colt some much-needed depth. Not bad for a $125 million film based on a 1980s Lee Majors television series.

Ticket Rating: 🎟🎟🎟🎟1/2


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