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Ryan Gosling is a hoot in this buoyant action comedy

May 3, 20244 Mins Read

Is there anything that Ryan Gosling cannot do? After bringing the Dolby Theatre down with his dazzling ‘I’m Just Ken’ performance during the 96th Academy Awards earlier this year and then crushing it at Saturday Night Live more recently, he is back to where he truly belongs—the gigantic theatre screen.

In David Leitch’s The Fall Guy, he is Colt Seavers, a charming goofball brimming with swagger, the stunt double of action superstar Tom Ryder (Aaron Taylor-Johnson). After an unfortunate accident, while performing a fall from a 12-story atrium, he retreats into oblivion. Having spent 18 months in hibernation, he is yanked to life by the prospect of reuniting with his former flame, Jody (Emily Blunt), who is directing her first film Metalstorm—a sci-fi spectacle—essentially a spoof of movies of “cosmic proportions” a la the Dune, Mad Max, and Alien franchises.

Inspired by Glen A Larson’s action television series of the same name that ran on ABC for five seasons from 1981 to 1986, The Fall Guy is an ode to the relentless grunt and grime that stuntmen plough through all their professional lives without any recognition. Written by Drew Pearce, it is full of irreverent candour, buoyant humour, and uncontainable Kenergy.

Though Blunt is a welcome antidote to all the hypermasculinity flying around, breaking bones, crushing skulls, and vehicles blowing up, her Jody is woefully underwritten. This is a Gosling film. And he has a ball of a time doing all the awesome stuff—firing zingers as if there is no tomorrow, performing speedboat chases, jumping off buildings, beating the pulp out of baddies at the back of a speeding garbage truck, smashing the hierarchy atop a helicopter.

The love story is only an excuse for all the chaos to unfold. The Fall Guy is a high-on-adrenaline extravaganza with elaborate, inventive, nimbly-performed stunt sequences, some of the best choreographed and executed in recent memory. In its 126-minute runtime, so many cars blow up to pieces, it’ll put Rohit Shetty in an existential crisis. The stunt that marks Colt’s glorious return from hiatus in the film has made it to the Guinness Book of World Records for the maximum number of cannon rolls (eight and a half, originally performed by stunt expert Logan Holladay).

That Leitch was a stunt guy (most famously Brad Pitt’s body double) for about two decades before he eventually branched out into direction, shines through. The Fall Guy is his and Gosling’s attempt to pull the curtain and reveal the real heroes behind the jaw-dropping, dangerous action in films that gets the box office rolling.

Even if their equation is undercooked, Gosling and Blunt share an undeniably easy, electric chemistry. The sparks flying between them are almost tactile. Who knew Ken and Kitty, who were on the opposing sides only last summer in the war that was Barbenheimer, could be so effervescent together?

It isn’t just the superlative action or their brilliant performances that make The Fall Guy the absolute riot it is. It’s also the witty dialogue, the agility with which the film skids, never allowing a dull moment, even when it sags a bit in the third act, akin to Jody’s constant worry about her own Metalstorm.

The messaging sometimes gets too meta or on the nose. For instance, the scene in which Colt and Jody brainstorm if splitting the screen in two would be too cerebral a metaphor for the audience to decipher and the screen gets divided with one actor in each half mirroring the other’s actions to perfect timing. Moreover, The Fall Guy barely has a plot and has a male saviour complex—Gosling comes to the rescue, no surprises there. Blunt gets to do some action, but considering how incredible she is, I wish she was given more to do.

However, it is a sight for sore eyes to see Colt weep to Taylor Swift’s ‘All Too Well’ alone in his car or never be able to drink coffee in peace or issue French commands to a dog to get him to attack men in the groin, or get drugged dressed in neon and see a unicorn everywhere he goes or ask Jody out over the promise of margaritas, swimsuits, and mistakes. There is nothing that Ryan Gosling cannot do.

Read other pieces by Sneha Bengani here.

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