Directed by: David Leitch
Written by: Drew Pearce
Starring: Ryan Gosling, Emily Blunt, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Winston Duke, Hannah Waddingham, Stephanie Hsu
Released: April 24, 2024
Grade: C

The Fall Guy

After a successful 6-year stretch, the career of stuntman Colt Seavers (Gosling) ended abruptly after a stunt-gone-wrong led to a serious back injury.  He now lives alone and works as a parking valet for a run-down Mexican restaurant.  That’s about to change.  After getting the call from a powerful executive producer (Waddingham), a rejuvenated Colt is flown to Sydney to work on a big-budget science-fiction flick about a human falling in love with an alien (it looks terrible).  A colleague (Duke) sums it up best – “it’s time for you to start rolling cars again instead of parking them.”

The Fall Guy is an odd film.  It’s a mishmash of genres that writer Drew Pearce (Iron Man 3) struggles to weave together.  There’s a romantic, “tortured souls” connection between Colt and the film’s director, Jody Moreno (Blunt), but it’s a rocky one given they had a falling out after Colt’s accident.  There’s a mystery component when the film’s A-list star, Tom Ryder (Taylor-Johnson), gets involved with the criminal underworld and goes missing during the shoot.  There’s a strong comedic flavour as characters talk flippantly and light-heartedly despite the gravity of the situation.  The film also serves as a tribute to stuntpeople and their perceived lack of recognition (no Oscars for them) when it comes to promotion and awards.

I’ll cut to the chase and say this is one of the worst screenplays served up this year.  This could have been quite funny but every attempt at humour is over-scripted and uninspired.  Colt and Jody discuss the merits of split screen while we, as the audience, see them talking in split screen.  That's the best they could think of?  There’s a moment on set where Jody, despite wanting to keep things “profesh”, lectures Colt in front of everyone about how the film’s plot is a metaphor for their own fractured romantic past.  These scenes drag on too long, the dialogue is forgettable, and they induce cringe as opposed to laughs.

The repetitively annoying nature of certain material also wears thin quickly.  How many times did we need to hear about “spicy margaritas” and “bad decisions”?  What’s the point of continually namedropping films like The Fast & The Furious and The Last of the Mohicans?  I’m a fan of the KISS song “I Was Made For Lovin’ You” but why did it have to be used so often?  If crafting a lengthy fight sequence to take place on the Sydney Harbour Bridge, why not write something that better showcases stunt folk as opposed to relying on obvious visual effects?  Why cast recent Oscar nominee Stephanie Hsu (Everything Everywhere All at Once) if giving her nothing meaningful to do?

The Fall Guy will tick boxes to promote Australian tourism (there’s even a scene on the steps of the Sydney Opera House) but if you’re looking for a fun, entertaining way to spend two hours… this ain’t it.