The Fall Guy falls short

Gosling and Blunt’s movie might take the audience behind the scenes of Hollywood but an uneven plot kills the idea

Omair Alavi May 19, 2024


A tribute to Hollywood’s little-known stunt industry, The Fall Guy highlights the plight of those ‘unknown stuntmen’ who make leading men look good. But instead of following the hit 1980s series of the same name, director David Leitch tries too hard to make the movie work, and that's why it fails because it didn't require that much hard work. It doesn’t measure up to the expectations of the original series’ fans since it doesn’t show the leading character moonlighting as a bounty hunter, while too many rom-com elements don’t do justice to the plot.

The director explained later that the leading character would moonlight as a bounty hunter in the sequel, but shouldn't he have said that before the movie, since most of the fans expected the bounty hunter angle to be part of the origin movie. After all, that’s what made the title character different from the others; his background with stunts was the one thing that set him apart from both fellow stuntmen and bounty hunters.

The recently released flick revolves around a stuntman named Colt Seavers (Ryan Gosling) who returns to duty from an on-set accident to a film that his former girlfriend Jody Moreno (Emily Blunt) is directing, only to learn that she doesn’t want him to be there. When the leading man of the movie Tom Ryder (Aaron Taylor–Johnson) goes missing, the producer approaches Colt for help since he knows him best as he 'literally' doubles for the guy.

Things go from bad to worse with Colt finding himself at the centre of a criminal conspiracy, from where he changes gears to clear his name and win back the trust and love of the girl he lost. Does he succeed or does he fail, The Fall Guy will provide you with all the answers.

On paper, the film’s story seemed perfect but Leitch’s execution had too many flaws. First, the stuntman was more handsome than the leading man and second, he was shown as working alone, when in fact Lee Majors’ Colt Seavers used to work with his cousin and assistant Howie Munson (Douglas Barr), and fellow stuntwoman Jody Banks (Heather Thomas). Yes, the GMC truck and the trademark jump were there but no mention of the bounty hunter track was a put-off. Finally, in a film set around stuntmen, there was too much romance and comedy, which might have been appreciated in a musical or a rom-com, but not in The Fall Guy.

Add to that a plot that seemed more suited to a TV show pilot than a big-budget flick and you have a film that could have been a contender. Leitch's previous films as a director include the mindless Atomic Blonde, Deadpool 2, and Bullet Train, and it would have been better had he stayed in his zone rather than attempt something that wasn’t his genre. Considering that he was associated with stunt work before turning director, he could have added many personal things to the plot, but it seemed he was more keen to celebrate the union of two Academy-Award-nominated actors Ryan Gosling and Emily Blunt, with whom he was working for the first time.

The film begins on a high as the extended walkaround shot at the beginning raises the bar, since it introduces all the characters to the audience, especially the unknown stuntman, but once the scene ends with a fall, so does the movie. From there, The Fall Guy is about a stuntman who fell during a stunt instead of the many ‘Fall Guys’ who give their life to the entertainment industry as unknown stuntmen. Also, the film switches genres; while the viewers get used to the romantic genre, the screenwriter adds jokes about the industry and before they can get used to that, poof come the action sequences.

The cycle is repeated throughout the second and third acts and even though the film makes fun of sci-fi franchises like Star Wars and Dune, parodies Hans Zimmer’s music, and tries to be too cool for the audience, it doesn’t manage to have the same effect as the TV show did five decades ago. Even the cameo from the original unknown stuntman Lee Majors and his co-star Heather Thomas came too late in the movie; had they made their appearance during the flick instead of in the mid-credit sequence, it would have given the audience the nudge they needed to wake them up from boredom.

There are many differences between Glen A. Larson’s The Fall Guy and Leitch’s tribute, which is both good and bad. Good, because those who had no clue that Lee Majors played Colt Seavers in a TV show that aired between 1981 and 1986 would take this film as a one-off thing. Bad, because those who watched the series expected it to be much better than it turned out to be.

Yes, there are a lot of thrilling stunts in the film including one featuring motorboats and another that set a Guinness World Record for the most cannon rolls performed in a car, but the amount of time spent on establishing the love-hate relationship of the leading characters nullifies the great work by the stuntpeople. Even the twist during the film’s second act doesn’t raise the kind of alarm it should have, because too many dialogues ruined it.

That one scene where Emily Blunt’s character takes revenge on her ex-boyfriend (played by Ryan Gosling) for ghosting her should either have been kept for DVD extras or edited to keep the audience interested.

I was looking at my watch repeatedly because it didn’t impress me much; the same thing happened when the two characters discussed the split-screen effect while talking to each other on a split screen. It seemed a good idea for a few seconds but when the director tried to take the creative liberty too far, it bored me, and I am sure many others would agree.

Usually, a film with a runtime of 126 minutes doesn’t seem boring nowadays but when it does, then the director and the screenwriter are to be blamed — the former for not realising that the film is dragging and the latter for not staying close to the source material. The pilot of the original series had more memorable moments than the whole movie which seemed like a tribute to The Fugitive than The Fall Guy. Like the Harrison Ford flick, the title character is framed here for a crime he didn’t commit and has to solve the case himself to clear his name.

As for the performers, Gosling and Blunt were first-rate and whatever the film’s issues, they weren’t part of the problem. They did everything they could to course-correct the plot but the inconsistencies were too many for them to correct. Anybody aware of Gosling’s previous work wouldn’t have been surprised at his versatile acting; this wasn’t the first rodeo for Blunt either, since she has been part of many action flicks before this one.

The kind of camaraderie they displayed at the Oscars a few months ago is visible in the film, Gosling’s swagger and Blunt’s comic timing keep the ship known as The Fall Guy afloat but not for the film’s duration. Their chemistry is one thing the audience takes back with them when they exit the theatre and despite their best, the film fails because they seem to be the only well-written characters in the movie. The secondary cast had nothing to do with the plot and came and went as they pleased; if you confuse a couple of characters, don’t worry because you weren’t alone.

It wouldn’t be incorrect to say that some of the scenes in the film seemed the extended version of ‘She Loves Me, She Loves Me Not’; it would have been important to the fans of rom-com but not for The Fall Guy enthusiasts who were expecting cameos from leading men and ladies, something which helped make the original series very popular.

Despite its problems, The Fall Guy is a one-time ride that takes you into the unknown alleys of Hollywood where stunt folks are the real stars. Aaron Taylor-Johnson’s character may seem over the top but it’s closer to reality than fiction. One hopes that after The Fall Guy, many other films will try to recognise the contribution of stuntmen and stuntwomen without whom Hollywood would be hollow. All they have to do is watch the original series and understand the essence before attempting something like that.


Omair Alavi is a freelance contributor who writes about film, television, and popular culture

All facts and information are the sole responsibility of the writer



Replying to X

Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.

For more information, please see our Comments FAQ