For the Love of the Stunts

The Fall Guy (2024 Film)

I know I said just recently that I was finding it hard to get the motivation together to go to the movies, especially to go out and see smaller films like The Fall Guy. That’s true. But then my wife was like, “you wanna go do the thing?” So we went out one evening this week and we did the thing. And, yes, it was a lot of fun. I don’t hate the movie-going experience, and I like supporting films, it just can be a hassle to do all that when the movies I want will eventually be out on home media in some form soon enough.

As I said, I’m part of the problem even as I wish there was a better solution.

Anyway, we went to see The Fall Guy (because my wife doesn’t like horror so I’ll have to see Abigail on my own at a later date). It’s a movie that got great reviews, and has a high audience score, but for some reason is failing to get traction at the Box Office (all of this we discussed in my article from a couple of days ago). At the same time, though, it was a blast to watch and, even on a weekday, had a pretty decent crowd at it. It was mostly older folks, people I have to assume grew up with the original TV show. They seemed to enjoy the film (although my wife and I were laughing the loudest in the audience) so the movie does work, at least for fans primed for it.

Which does make you wonder: how could a film like this, with solid stars, good trailers, and audiences enjoying the hell out of it, fail to garner traction at the Box Office. Setting aside all the other arguments I made about it already, this should have been an easy set up. Ryan Gosling was coming off of Barbie, one of the biggest hits of last year. Emily Blunt is in everything, including Oppenheimer (the other big movie of last year, which I really need to sit down and watch), so she’s as big a name (hell, bigger) than Gosling. And yet these two couldn’t save a film with action, and humor, and romance, a proper four-quadrant production. That’s massively strange.

Hollywood, in short, has really broken the Box Office when a film like this, which two or three years ago could have been a massive, $500 Mil hit at least, is probably not even going to make back its $150 Mil budget by the time it leaves theaters. And that’s tragic because, of everything that’s come out in recent memory, this film really deserved to be a hit.

In the film, Gosling stars as Colt Seavers, a stunt man to Tom Ryder (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), a big Hollywood star who gets all the massive deals. He is, as Ryder himself puts it, “a brand.” Any movie he touches is a hit, and Seavers is his number one stunt guy. But when a stunt goes back, leaving Seavers with a broken back, it plunges the stunt man into a massive spiral of doubt and shame. He cuts off everyone in his life, including his lady love, camera operator Jody Moreno (Blunt), and he spends the next year and a half out of the business, working on his recovery while parking cars as a valet.

He’s pulled out of retirement, though, when the producers on all of Ryder’s films, Gail Meyer (Hannah Waddingham), calls Colt up and says he’s needed on Jody’s new movie, Metalstorm. It’s her first big directing job and she needs a solid stunt man she can rely on. Colt drops everything to help her, flying down to Australia to be on set, only to learn that Jody doesn’t actually want him there. She’s hurt after he left her, and she never got an explanation for why. Gail then says the real reason she needs Colt’s help: Ryder is missing and they need someone that can be discreet to find him and, well, who’s gonna miss a stunt guy? To help Jody’s film, and maybe rekindle what they had, Colt is just the guy for the job.

Gosling is great in his role as Colt. He played the ultimate himbo in Barbie, and while he tones that down here some (he’s not as dumb, nor as naive, in The Fall Guy as he was as Ken in Barbie) there are still elements of it in his performance. He’s open, and likable, and funny, a big, lovable oaf that you simply can’t hate. And then he goes out and throws himself around, over and over, for the lady he loves, that’s all pretty awesome. While it’s clear Gosling didn’t do all his own stunts, he did do a fair number of solid close-ups that help to sell it, and he clearly had fun with what he did do. He was in it for this role.

Blunt, meanwhile, brings her graceful and likable self to the role. The film does a good job, from the very start, selling the chemistry between the two leads and, damn, does so much of it come from Blunt. To be honest, I feel like she could have chemistry with inanimate objects. “Why yes, Mr. Floor Lamp, I do feel like we could try and rekindle our relationship.” She could pull it off. Gosling is great, and he gives back, which only ups the fire between these two. The Fall Guy is their story and, thankfully, they both bring all the steam they need to sell the shit out of it.

The glorious part of the film, though, are the stunts, and the movie absolutely delivers. There are a number of really solid action set-pieces, from an early sword fight in Ryder’s apartment, to another fight in a club, a massive (and awesome) chase on the back of a trailer through the city, and then a fantastic boat chase late in the film. All of this comes in and around all the stunts filmed for the movie within the movie, Metalstorm, which are also great. Really, if you wanted a movie packed with fun and engaging wall-to-wall action, The Fall Guy has it.

I will note that the plot of the film, while solid in the moment, isn’t exactly loaded with mystery. There’s a reason Ryder is missing, and a reason why Colt is brought in to find him, and once all the machinations of the plot are played out, you can totally see how it was going to end all along. I wouldn’t call it a twisty plot, just one that works in the context of the film. This is not a grand mystery, not something you’d expect from Rian Johnson and his Knives Out films, just something more akin to a shaggy story for an action film. Which this is, so it works.

Really the two key reasons to come see this film are the chemistry between Blunt and Gosling and all the action on display. On those two fronts the film delivers, and it does it all with gleeful abandon. This is the kind of film that sucks you in and gets you laughing as scene after scene of stunts and silliness plays out. It has everything a proper Summer Blockbuster should have… we’ve just entered an era when Summer Blockbusters aren’t what audiences want anymore. Until things shift, and Hollywood gets a better handle on how to get audiences to take an interest, movies like The Fall Guy are going to struggle.

This one is a winner, though, so do yourself a favor and get out to the theater to see it. I finally did, and I don’t regret it.