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Wednesday, May 29, 2024
The Observer

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'The Fall Guy' is full of stunts, laughs and romance

Summer is fast approaching, and with it, the summer blockbuster. Instead of the typical superhero IP schlock Hollywood usually serves up, they’ve decided to commence the season with “The Fall Guy.” Thanks to an early screening at the DPAC on Sunday, the Notre Dame community could see the film a week before its wide release. I attended the screening, and “The Fall Guy” is a more than worthy inauguration of the summer. It’s an electric, fun romp buoyed by fantastic chemistry between its two romantic leads.

“The Fall Guy” is about stuntman Colt (Ryan Gosling), who does the stunt work for egotistical Hollywood star Tom Ryder (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and is dating a camera operator, Jody (Emily Blunt). His life is going pretty great until he has a tragic accident on set, causing him to retreat from both the industry and Jody. Eighteen months later, Colt is asked to return to his job and do stunt work on Jody’s new movie shooting in Australia. Hoping to win Jody back, Colt accepts, but he quickly becomes entangled in a high-level conspiracy that puts both his life and her movie in danger.

The romance takes the spotlight in “The Fall Guy,” a refreshing choice for an action movie, and the film is all the better for it. Gosling and Blunt’s relationship is endearing and playful. Their scenes are full of flirtatious wit, and the two actors have great on-screen chemistry. While the film doesn’t do a great job selling the supposed rift between the two characters that most of the romantic tension is predicated on, the romance still adds a lot of heart to the film’s action spectacles and unrelenting jokes.

Director David Leitch is one of Hollywood’s most consistent journeymen when it comes to action movies, and he once again delivers the goods. The action sequences are dynamic, stylish and have some appropriately impressive stunt work. Specifically, the final act is a real standout. It has an ambitious scale and complexity, taking place entirely on a film set and using it as a canvas for some ingenious moments I don’t want to spoil. It coalesces the movie’s plot lines and reverence for stunt work and filmmaking into an electrifying, spectacular climax.

“The Fall Guy” is a comedic winner as well. The jokes are consistently excellent, with many breaking the fourth wall and poking fun at the current Hollywood landscape. While I usually get annoyed very quickly by meta jokes, they’ll all tastefully done in this movie and come from a sincere love for cinema and stunt work. Gosling continues his comedic winning streak from “Barbie” with another hilarious performance. His goofy mannerisms and impassioned line deliveries never fail to amuse. He feels acutely attuned to the film’s wavelength and is the main reason why the film is so much fun. However, Blunt also soars with the material, and her dead-pan delivery is the perfect foil for Gosling. The supporting cast, including Taylor-Johnson, Hannah Waddingham and Winston Duke, are all great. I especially love Taylor-Johnson’s performance, which channels a dozen Hollywood celebrities simultaneously. While the film has a lighthearted, silly tone throughout, the humor never excessively detracts from the action and romance. The film adeptly balances all these vying elements into an engaging, dynamic experience.

“The Fall Guy” is the enjoyable, breezy film every blockbuster should aspire to be. It's a charming rom-com wrapped up in a thrilling, action-packed extravaganza; I can't think of a better antidote to the stress and anxiety of finals season.