SXSW ‘The Fall Guy’ Movie Review – Ryan Gosling and Emily Blunt Anchor a Fantastic Action Film

Stuntmen do very impressive work on movies, and the better they are, the less likely you are even to notice them. While rumblings about an Oscar for stunts finally being given out have led nowhere, the best boost to this particular section of the industry is the big-budget blockbuster The Fall Guy from Universal Pictures, plastering this profession all over screens nationwide in the loudest and most visible way possible. Fortunately, this package is absolutely and undeniably entertaining, offering up action, romance, and a mostly coherent storyline sure to deliver a good time.

Colt Seavers (Ryan Gosling) is living the life, working as a stunt double for movie star Tom Ryder (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and carrying on a non-so-secret romance with camera operator Jody Moreno (Emily Blunt). Everything is going great until he suffers a serious fall during a botched stunt and retreats from this backbreaking work. Some time later, he gets a call from Tom’s longtime producer Gail (Hannah Waddingham), telling him that Jody has specifically requested him for her first time directing a movie. It turns out that’s far from the truth, and Jody isn’t at all happy to see the ex-boyfriend who ghosted her. Gail has lured him all the way to Australia for a different purpose: to find Tom, who has gone missing.

Ryan Gosling and Emily Blunt in The Fall Guy - Movie Review
Ryan Gosling and Emily Blunt in The Fall Guy. Image courtesy of Universal Pictures.

The Fall Guy never stops being funny or cool

The Fall Guy starts out looking cool and never stops, and it’s carried by a constant comedic energy emanating from the character of Colt. Gosling has been charming for years, but after his portrayal of Ken in Barbie and his Oscars performance of the nominated song “I’m Just Ken,” he has an even greater appeal. He rides that in just the right way to make Colt a fantastic protagonist, ready with just as many witty comments as he has awkward responses to situations he doesn’t know how to interpret. 

His chemistry with Blunt, a spectacular actress also at the height of her career following her first Oscar nomination, for Best Picture winner Oppenheimer, is almost legendary. An early scene in Australia finds Colt having to repeatedly set himself on fire as Jody recounts what is allegedly part of the script he hasn’t read but actually a blunt rehashing of how she perceived the end of their relationship in the wake of his accident. It’s great fun, and that doesn’t even begin to cover their many shared scenes throughout the film that find them flirting, bantering, or just having a normal conversation about what their future together could be.

Stunts form the backbone for The Fall Guy

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that stunts figure heavily into The Fall Guy, which set a world record for the most cannon rolls in a car during production. While the death-defying moments, both simulated as part of filming the fictional movies and when Colt is really trying to track down his missing actor, are sleek and spectacular all on their own, there’s an added dimension to this that makes it even more of a blast. Stunt coordinator Dan (Winston Duke) frequently reenacts famous stunts and has Colt guess what they’re from, and when he’s beside Colt fighting for both of their lives, he calls out the film’s name before kicking some ass and paying homage at the same time.

Ryan Gosling in The Fall Guy - Movie Review
Ryan Gosling in The Fall Guy. Image courtesy of Universal Pictures.

The casting works across the board in this film, with Ted Lasso alum Waddingham taking on a more exaggerated role, first described by Colt as “freebasing” soda. Everything Everywhere All at Once breakout Stephanie Hsu has a small but memorable part, as does Teresa Palmer. Ultimately, it’s the pairing of Gosling and Blunt, who previewed their shared charisma during an Oscars stunt tribute that involved them arguing about the perceived rivalry between their two halves of Barbenheimer. Everyone is having fun here, and that definitely includes anyone sitting in the audience. Low expectations are not needed for this film, which is a surefire crowdpleaser.

There are moments in The Fall Guy’s plot that don’t necessarily add up, but there’s so little lag in anything that it’s more than made up for either by the cleverness of the dialogue or the action that almost never lets up. It’s a humorous and surprisingly smart send-up of Hollywood tropes, not just in the field of stunts but more broadly speaking about the role of a director and producer on set and building towards something that audiences really want to see. The references range in specificity and should prove particularly enticing to those well-versed in how the film industry works.

Running just over two hours during its SXSW premiere, The Fall Guy keeps the action moving at a consistent pace throughout and probably could even have been longer and more enjoyable. But like any good blockbuster, there’s a sincere intention to go out with a bang, and this film does that with style, generous enough to give each of its characters the chance to get in on the fun. The Fall Guy is a refreshing instance of a film that could have been mindless and still worked, not taking the easy route. Instead, it offered up something semi-smart that rightly prioritizes having a great time in front of a big screen above all else.

The Fall Guy will be in theaters on May 3, 2024.

Are you excited about The Fall Guy?  Let us know on X @MoviesWeTexted and check out the movie’s official site, too.

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