The Fall Guy review – Ryan Gosling fails to fly in vacuous stuntman action comedy

Like the Lee Majors-starring 80s TV show on which this bombastic action comedy is based, The Fall Guy is pitched as a celebration of the work of the stunt crew: the unheralded men and women who take the movie-set risks so that the stars can take the credit. But in fact the film tumbles into the same pitfalls as any other enthusiastically pyrotechnic, action-heavy extravaganza: the sheer volume of stunt sequences means that the skills on show start to lose all meaning. Individually, the shots of a tiny figure dangling from a bucking, spinning, malfunctioning helicopter are impressive. But the relentless pace at which director (and former stuntman) David Leitch (Bullet Train) works through his ostentatious action set piece checklist means that it all turns into empty noise; spectacles strung together by a dizzy, slapdash screenplay that feels as though it has sustained a few too many bumps to the head.

Ryan Gosling is curiously half-baked as Colt Seavers, a top stunt professional whose career and burgeoning romantic relationship are both derailed by a broken back from a botched fall. Now Jody (Emily Blunt), the ex-girlfriend he ghosted after the incident, is directing her first movie (an absolutely shocking-looking sci-fi western titled Metal Storm). And Colt is tempted out of retirement at her express request. Except she didn’t ask for him and she wants nothing more to do with him. Meanwhile, the film’s star, Tom Ryder (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), is missing and the fate of Jody’s debut hangs in the balance. It’s up to Colt to do his best work – he’s repeatedly kicked in the face, ignited and shot at – in the name of bad art. Which, I suppose, neatly sums up the stunt performer paradox.

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