A star rating of 4 out of 5.

Hollywood likes to bite the hand that feeds, or at least give it the occasional light nibble. Film itself has proved to be fertile ground for filmmakers, to put the industry and the world that surrounds it under the microscope.


It’s a rich vein of subject matter, from studies of the cynicism and ruthlessness of studio executives (Robert Altman’s The Player, 1992) to mocking the egos and pretentiousness of front-of-camera talent (Tropic Thunder, 2008). And there are elements of both of those examples caught in the wide net cast by The Fall Guy.

Loosely inspired by the Lee Majors action-adventure TV series of the same name that ran for five years from 1981, Ryan Gosling stars as the suitably ruggedly-named Colt Seavers, a seasoned movie stuntman who left the business after one particularly elaborate set-piece went wrong.

After 18 months of largely menial work (parking customers’ cars at a Mexican restaurant), Colt is persuaded to return to risking his life on screen when his camera operator ex-girlfriend Jody (Emily Blunt) lands her first directing job, a science fiction yarn called Metalstorm, filming in Australia.

However, it isn’t until Colt arrives on set that he learns Jody was unaware of his hiring, and the friction that drove the couple apart in the first place soon raises its head again.

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Added to that particular awkwardness, Colt discovers that Metalstorm’s star, heartthrob Tom Ryder (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), has gone missing, linked to a drugs scandal that threatens to derail the entire production, and a dead body has been found in the actor’s apartment.

There’s a lot to unpack here, but be it the on-off romance of the leads and its nods to screwball comedy or the mystery plot’s more serious, murderous elements, director David Leitch and screenwriter Drew Pearce (Iron Man 3, Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation) keep their plates spinning with confidence and style.

Key to the film’s success is the dazzling chemistry between Gosling and Blunt, a collision of (on-the-surface) chalk and cheese that creates sparks in almost every scene they share.

Traditionally, the love-interest angle of action comedies tends to be underwritten, but here the depths and layers of the past and present relationship between Colt and Jody is entirely believable, even when the narrative only hints at what went on in their history together.

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Ryan Gosling as Colt Seavers and Emily Blunt as Jodie Moreno in The Fall Guy. They are sitting opposite each other at a table and she is playfully holding a knife to his chin
Ryan Gosling as Colt Seavers and Emily Blunt as Jodie Moreno in The Fall Guy. Universal

Gosling has rarely been more charismatic, yet perfectly conveys a vulnerable side seemingly at odds with his character’s tough-guy persona, while Blunt’s blend of put-upon primness and outright feistiness is routinely delivered with the impeccable timing of one of the big screen’s most dependable comedians.

The stuntman aspect of the whole shebang will undoubtedly invite parallels with Brad Pitt’s Oscar-winning turn in Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood, but what both films share on a wider canvas is a plainly heartfelt affection for the movie world, a broad homage served by a well-structured script with very little fat on its bones.

It’s a celebration of old-school blockbusters, with a few sideswipes at the often soullessness of modern-day special effects (including a nod to the ever-looming threat AI poses), made by a director and writer with an innate understanding of film and, perhaps more importantly, an unbridled love of it.

Special mention goes to Hannah Waddingham as the producer who initially brings Colt and Jody together again, further cornering the market in steely businesswomen in a supposedly male arena she mined to great effect as a football club owner in TV’s Ted Lasso; it’s the ideal supporting role, never outshining the names above the title but integral to them doing their own work so well.

But when all is said and done, the film clearly belongs to Gosling and Blunt and the ease with which they bounce off each other, their heartstrings still being plucked throughout a thrill-ride salute to cinema that wears its own heart on its sleeve. It’s two love stories in one.

The Fall Guy is released in UK cinemas on Thursday 2nd May 2024.


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