Anyone who grew up in the 1980s will probably have a recollection of The Fall Guy (1981) TV series, even if it is only a memory of that awesome theme tune. If like me however, and you remember watching every episode, you will have been hotly anticipating the release of The Fall Guy, director David Leitch’s modern day update of the series.

The movie version takes the same basic foundations of the television series but at the same time feel original, with Leitch making sure to pay homage to the original series but still making his film feel original and accessible.

Ryan Gosling is Colt Seavers, one of the best stuntmen in the business. For the past five years he has been working as action star Tom Ryder’s (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) main stunt double. During what should be a simple stunt, Seavers finds himself seriously injured. Abandoning his career, Seavers alienates himself from everyone who cares about him, including his girlfriend Jody (Emily Blunt) who was working as a camerawoman on the film Seavers was injured.

18 months pass and Seavers is working as a car valet to make ends meet. At his lowest ebb, he is contacted by film producer Gail Meyer (Hannah Waddingham) who ask him to come to Australia to be a stuntman on Tom Ryder’s new film Metalstorm. At first he is reluctant until Gail tells him that it is Jody’s directorial debut and she personally requested him.

Upon arriving, Colt meets up with Jody where it quickly becomes clear that she didn’t ask for him. Clearly still angry over their breakup, Jody makes Colt carry out the same stunt multiple times. Colt and Jody somewhat reconcile, agreeing to keep things professional moving forward.

Confronting Gail about the ruse to get him there, Colt is informed that Tom Ryder has gone missing and Gail actually called for Colt so he could look for him, as a stuntman wouldn’t raise any suspicions. To make sure he does this, Gail makes it clear that no Ryder, no Metalstorm, ruining Jody’s chances as a director. With that in mind Colt begins to investigate, uncovering a conspiracy as he fights through a small army of armed goons, with only his friend and fellow stuntman Dan (Winston Duke) on hand to help him.

I can’t think of a more suitable director working today than David Leitch to helm The Fall Guy movie. With an extensive career in stunt work, he is the perfect candidate to direct a film focusing on the dangerous life of a Stuntman. The film is as much a celebration of stunt work and the people involved as it is a remake of the television show. The film put me somewhat in mind of Hal Needham’s classic Hooper (1978), another film that celebrated the life of stunt workers. Unsurprisingly, like Leitch, Needham started as a stuntman.

Admittedly, Leitch is a more stylish director than what Needham was. As he has progressed as a director, each of his films have gotten more visually adventurous, with The Fall Guy being filled with creative flourishes that sets it apart from typical action fare. Everything from the vibrant cinematography to the use of split screens separates the film from a generic blockbuster. One particular highlight in the film involves Gosling taking on multiple opponents in a nightclub whilst high. Not only is the fight beautifully choreographed, Leitch mixes it up by changing the color palette and the introduction of some psychedelic imagery, with a unicorn being thrown in for good measure.

Another aspect that pips Leitch’s movie above other Hollywood blockbusters is its implementation of proper stunt work rather than fake looking CGI. Wherever possible, The Fall Guy does it the old fashion way, which can be seen during the closing credits, where the outtakes are shown. Funnily enough, this was something that was originally done by Hal Needham during The Cannonball Run (1981). The stunts are so well done they even ended up in the Guinness Book of World Records, with stunt driver Logan Holladay pulling off 8 and a half cannon rolls in a car.

What sets a film like Hooper and The Fall Guy apart is its plot. Hooper has a great host of characters but it’s somewhat meandering in terms of story, being made up more by a series of impressive set pieces with comedic interludes. The Fall Guy may not win any awards in this area, but the murder mystery plot that the action hangs upon is fun, bringing with it a good amount of humor, with the added romance between Gosling and Blunt giving the film an additional emotional edge.

Gosling makes for a perfect Colt Seavers. Rather than trying to emulate the iconic Lee Majors, Gosling rather brings his own unique style to the character. This may upset die hard fans of the original series, but Gosling is such good fun in the role that it was easily forgivable. Gosling’s take on Seavers is very much in the mold of other Gosling characters, playing like a more heroic, sober version of his The Nice Guys (2016) character. Seavers is definitely more relatable than the last stuntman Gosling played in Nicolas Winding Refn’s Drive (2011).

This version of Seavers isn’t a bounty hunter as he was in the series, but that isn’t to say that this couldn’t come later in a potential sequel. Even so, like a bounty hunter he still finds himself on the hunt for someone which gives Gosling ample opportunities to show off both his drama and comedy skills as well as taking part in several well done action scenes. Gosling does quite a lot of the action himself, but as shown in the outtakes, smartly leaves the more dangerous stuff to his stunt doubles.

As much as The Fall Guy is an action film, it’s also a romance, with Gosling sharing terrific chemistry with Emily Blunt who is perfect as Seavers spurned ex. She certainly makes Gosling work hard in his mission to win her back. Forcing him to carry out a fire stunt multiple times is just the start of the hoops he has to jump through. It’s great seeing Blunt back in fun mode after the seriousness of Oppenheimer (2023) and Pain Hustlers (2023).

Hannah Waddingham brings just the right amount of sarkiness to her role of a cynical film producer. Getting some quality one liners, Waddingham brings a lot of energy to what could have been a forgettable role. As the film progresses, Waddingham becomes more integral to the plot which was appreciated, as originally I expected her to be sidelined.

I was surprised how limited Aaron Taylor-Johnson’s role was. Other than the opening moments of the film, he doesn’t appear again until around the final third of the film. With him being one of the best parts of Leitch’s previous Bullet Train (2022), I expected his part to be more substantial. Even so, Johnson has great fun sending up not only his own image, but that of the Hollywood action star. I also liked that his character didn’t develop the way I had thought it would, with him being more than just the comic relief.

I initially expected Winston Duke’s screen time to be similarly limited, but luckily as the film progresses he factors more into the plot, being one of Seavers’ only allies. Duke is hilarious, spouting film quotes at every opportunity. That is when he’s not beating the living daylights out of someone, with Duke getting involved in several fight scenes. Favoring power over fancy fight moves, Duke is just a force to be reckoned with. When Duke throws a punch you can almost feel the impact.

It wouldn’t be right in my review if I didn’t mention the soundtrack, with it being note perfect. In his second collaboration with Leitch, composer Dominic Lewis’ score hits all the appropriate action beats, with the choice of songs during the film ranging from Kiss to Phil Collins. Regarding Kiss, Lewis incorporates their hit “I Was Made for Loving You” on several occasions throughout the film, which works beautifully. For those wondering if the iconic theme tune makes an appearance, there’s no need to worry, as an updated take on “Unknown Stuntman” plays over the end credits courtesy of Blake Shelton.

Filled with action, humor and a touch of romance, The Fall Guy is exactly the film I hoped it would be. While it isn’t exactly the television series, it pays enough reverence to what came before to keep fans of the show happy. It’s another in a list of quality actioners to come from David Leitch who has hardly set a foot wrong since stepping up to become director. 

Plot: 4/5
Acting: 4.5/5
Action: 4/5
Overall: 4.2/5



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