The Movie Waffler New to VOD - THE FALL GUY | The Movie Waffler


A Hollywood stuntman and his director ex team up to solve the mystery of a missing actor.

Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: David Leitch

Starring: Ryan Gosling, Emily Blunt, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Hannah Waddingham, Stephanie Hsu, Winston Duke

The Fall Guy poster

I've long believed that with a few exceptions (most notably Walter Hill's 48 Hrs), if you're making an action comedy it's wiser to place it in the hands of a comedy director rather than an action filmmaker. A good comedy director will be able to mine laughs from an action star, but an action filmmaker will struggle to make a comedian convince as an action star.

The Fall Guy is an action comedy directed by an action filmmaker, David Leitch (Bullet Train; Atomic Blonde). It's an odd choice as despite being a movie about a stuntman, it's roughly 95% a comedy and only 5% an action movie. The action only really comes in the climax and a mid-movie chase scene. For the most part it's a screwball comedy, one that has more in common with '80s shows like Hart to Hart and Moonlighting than with the show it actually purports to be adapting. That said, it has none of the charm of Hart to Hart and certainly none of the great writing that defined Moonlighting.

The Fall Guy review

It's no surprise to find The Fall Guy bears little resemblance to the original show, as these things rarely do. Its protagonist is a stuntman but that's really all it has in common with its TV source. Played by Ryan Gosling, Hollywood stuntman Colt Seavers is no longer a bounty hunter here, and Jody (Emily Blunt) isn't a stunt performer but a movie director. In the original show Colt and Jody had a strictly platonic relationship, with Colt something of a father figure to Jody. Here Colt and Jody are lovers. The series' other key characters - Colt's comic relief cousin Howey and his boss Big Jack - are conspicuously absent. It's yet another case of adapting a property simply for its brand name recognition. At least we get the iconic theme tune over the end credits.

The film opens with an impressive "oner" that ends with Colt falling from a height and breaking his back. He subsequently becomes known as "the fall guy," geddit? Ugh. For some reason which the film never makes a convincing case for, Colt ends his relationship with doting camera operator Jody and retires from the stunt biz, taking a demeaning job as a car valet. Then he receives a call from producer Gail Meyer (Hannah Waddingham) pleading for him to get back in the stunt saddle and fly to Australia where Jody is shooting her first movie as a director. Seeing it as a chance to rekindle their romance, Colt accepts, only to find Gail has an ulterior motive. The movie's leading man, Tom Ryder (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), has vanished and Gail wants Colt to track him down. Wait, didn't Colt break his back? How on Earth will he be ab...shush now.

The Fall Guy review

What follows is an experience akin to watching two hours of deleted scenes from a better, more focussed film. Every scene is a couple of minutes longer than it needs to be, and the film smugly leans into bad jokes and runs them into the ground. There's a sequence that sees Colt get accidentally drugged, resulting in his hallucinating a unicorn everywhere he goes. It's mildly amusing the first time we see the creature, but the movie insists on repeating this image ad nauseum, like a dad who just can't accept that his teenage daughter simply doesn't find his jokes funny.

Gosling and Blunt are individually charming, and with their beaming smiles and sparkling baby blues you can't help but look at them and think "Now that's a movie star!" But there's a notable lack of chemistry in their many scenes together. They don't so much flirt with one another as flirt at each other. Leitch appears out of depth when it comes to handling comedy, and many of the rambling scenes give the impression that he just let his stars improv and hoped for the best. The dialogue is atrocious, and if ever a movie needed a script polish by Shane Black, it's this one. The biggest issue is that there's a lack of conflict in the relationship between Colt and Jody because she practically agrees to take him back as soon as he arrives in Australia. The sort of sexually tense bickering that fuels the best rom-coms is as a result, completely absent.

The Fall Guy review

What's most surprising is how little action is on screen. What we do get is underwhelming. There's a chase scene on the streets of Sydney that could have been exhilarating, but the film makes the terrible decision to intercut it with a conversation between Jody and Gail, which kills its momentum. The final climactic scene is like all of these films' climactic sequences - just a lot of stuff and noise, with nothing that's going to stand out in the annals of action cinema.

At one point Colt jokes with a visual FX artist about having his face replaced by Tom Cruise. This only serves to make us think about how much fun this might have been if Cruise had been involved in the project. Now there's someone who understands both action and comedy.

The Fall Guy
 is on UK/ROI VOD now.

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