The Fall Guy review – Ryan Gosling and Emily Blunt fun it up in goofy stuntman romance

The Fall Guy review – Ryan Gosling and Emily Blunt fun it up in goofy stuntman romance

You might need to get your indulgent smile firmly in place for this colossal action comedy – not unlike the adorable smirks on the faces of its male and female leads, Ryan Gosling and Emily Blunt, who play the daredevil movie stuntman and the stern director with whom he is in love. It’s a goofy summer crowd-pleaser (and you can never have too many of those) that is very far from the edgier and more satirical mien of Richard Rush’s 1980 movie The Stunt Man, in which a Vietnam draft evader hides out on a movie location, doing dangerous stunts in return for anonymity. Actually, this one is loosely inspired by a 1980s TV show, also called The Fall Guy, about a stuntman with a parallel career as a bounty hunter – starring Lee Majors, a legend who puts in a tongue-in-cheek cameo here along with his co-star, Heather Thomas.

Gosling plays seasoned stunt maestro Colt Seavers, utterly unafraid of any physical challenges, self-effacingly doubling for insufferably conceited star Tom Ryder (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), who outrageously claims to do all his own stunts. Colt is having a passionate affair with beautiful, talented camera operator Jody Moreno (Blunt), but when he is involved in a catastrophic and career-ending failed stunt, he is overwhelmed with macho shame, thinking the accident was his fault because his infatuation with Jody made him take his eye off the ball.

Colt self-pityingly disappears from view during physical rehab and cuts off all contact with Jody, who is deeply hurt. But then hard-faced producer Gail (Hannah Waddingham) persuades him to come back to work on Jody’s first film as a director, a sci-fi epic starring Ryder as a space cowboy doing an awful sub-Matthew-McConaughey Texas accent. Gail claims that Jody herself wanted him – but she and the unspeakable Ryder have their own wicked plans in mind.

Once the premise is established in the first quarter of an hour, the rest of the film is devoted to a long and essentially plotless extravaganza of crashes, bangs, jumps, punches and PAEs (Pointless Action Explosions). It’s a movie whose own stunts – and the fact that stunt doubles are needed – lend a kind of metatextual frisson to this story, although the script does allude to the brave new AI world in which deepfakes can also be used to make it look as though the star is doing the dangerous stuff for real. Location footage over the final credit roll makes it glancingly clear that a number of actual stuntmen were needed, but falls short of giving these unsung heroes actual named-star status.

Gosling and Blunt have a nice rapport: there is a sweet and apparently improvised moment when Jody’s hat blows off in the wind from helicopter blades in the middle of a dialogue scene and she has to get it back in place. But this is more about the “bang bang” than the “kiss kiss”. The biggest laugh comes from a line about Johnny Depp and Amber Heard, and we could have done with a few more decent gags. A solid serving of popcorn entertainment.

skip past newsletter promotion