The Fall Guy review: "A snappy, sharp, sexy screwball action romance"

The Fall Guy
(Image: © Universal Pictures)

GamesRadar+ Verdict

A snappy, sharp, sexy screwball romance, with sparking chemistry between Ryan Gosling and Emily Blunt, great support from Hannah Waddingham and ace action.

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Those who saw Ryan Gosling and Emily Blunt’s skit at the 2024 Academy Awards, introducing a tribute to the stunt community, will surely have had their appetites whetted for The Fall Guy. A contemporary reboot of the 1980s TV series, in which Lee Majors played a stuntman who moonlights as a bounty hunter, this buzzy action comedy fizzes largely thanks to the easy-on-the-eye chemistry that Gosling and Blunt showed on Oscar night. On this evidence, they could – and should – form an ongoing double act.

Gosling plays Colt Seavers, a successful stunt performer who is having a bit of a thing with camera operator Jody Moreno (Blunt). For the past six years, he’s been the double for A-list star Tom Ryder (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), but things go disastrously wrong during a calamitous daredevil 100ft plunge. Rushed to hospital with a broken back, Colt is out of the game. When the movie cuts to 18 months later, he’s eking out a living as a valet at a Mexican restaurant.

Out of the blue, he’s contacted by producer Gail Meyer (Ted Lasso’s Hannah Waddingham), who requires his services in Sydney, Australia, on the set of new sci-fi Metalstorm, which stars Ryder. When Colt arrives, he’s shocked to discover that Jody is calling the shots as director, and she is less than pleased to see him. For the past year and a half, Colt had ghosted Jody, struggling to cope with his injuries and his feelings for her. Needless to say, their reunion is on a rocky road.

The plot’s motor really starts to spin when it appears that Ryder has gone missing and Colt is sent to track him down, with help from stunt coordinator Dan Tucker (Winston Duke) and the actor’s personal assistant, Alma Milan (Stephanie Hsu). When Colt starts to play detective, the twists come thick and fast, as bodies pile up and it transpires that our hero may be ‘the fall guy’ in more ways than one.

The search for Ryder keeps the plot ticking over, but it really plays second fiddle to the two leads trading barbs and steamy looks as the craziness of a full-scale Hollywood production goes on around them. Boasting the tagline ‘It’s high noon at the edge of the universe’, Metalstorm looks like the sort of franchise nonsense studio executives greenlight in their sleep – just one of the good-natured ribbings the film industry endures in a screenplay by Drew Pearce (Iron Man 3).

The Fall Guy (2024)

(Image credit: Universal)

While there isn’t a lot of in-depth probing of Seavers – as character studies go, the film operates on a superficial level – The Fall Guy is never less than bags of fun. Some of the best scenes come as Blunt and a high-Kenergy Gosling occupy each other’s orbit, like the sequence where Jody repeatedly demands Colt perform a stunt where he’s set on fire and yanked into a rock while she yells out her grievances through a megaphone.

The Gos and Blunt aren’t the only perfect match, meanwhile, with the movie directed by former stuntman David Leitch (Atomic Blonde). The filmmaker brings his skill set to all the action sequences, particularly a superb speedboat chase through Sydney Harbour, but he also sharpens the penchant for comedy he showed with Deadpool 2. On this evidence, he deserves to fully break out of the action-director mold.

He is, of course, aided by a fine support cast. Waddingham, with a mass of dark curls, is very funny as the bullish producer, while Taylor- Johnson has a riot as the a-hole A-lister, coming on like a sort of über-Matthew McConaughey. Duke (Us, Black Panther) is also very watchable, making Tucker more than just a sidekick as he accompanies Colt on his adrenaline-fuelled adventures.

Admittedly, the connection to the original TV show is tenuous at best. Let’s face it, The Fall Guy is only likely to be remembered by those over 50, and even then it’s hardly a show like The A-Team or The Dukes of Hazzard to get the nostalgia juices flowing. You’re left with the feeling that the film could have been made under another title, with no brand recognition, and be no less successful. Still, that’s Hollywood for you; at least the result emerges as a fine tribute to the unsung heroes of the movie business.

It’s also a tad too long, with the final act stretching the conceit a bit too far (although the climactic sequence and the footage that accompanies the end credits are worth the protracted running time). But beyond these minor gripes, The Fall Guy is an effervescent comedy that truly flies. Finally, those stunning stuntmen have a film to call their own.

The Fall Guy is released in UK cinemas on May 2 and in US theaters on May 3.  For more, check out our list of the best action movies of all time.

Freelance writer

James Mottram is a freelance film journalist, author of books that dive deep into films like Die Hard and Tenet, and a regular guest on the Total Film podcast. You'll find his writings on GamesRadar+ and Total Film, and in newspapers and magazines from across the world like The Times, The Independent, The i, Metro, The National, Marie Claire, and MindFood.