SXSW 2024: Ryan Gosling & Emily Blunt’s Chemistry Ignites THE FALL GUY (2024) 


It seems reports on the demise of the movie star were premature.

While yes, The Fall Guy is based on a pre-existing IP (a Lee Majors tv show from the 1980s with one of the greatest tv theme songs of all time), it’s not an IP almost anyone below a certain age has even heard of today. Director David Leitch’s version of The Fall Guy is a Hollywood blockbuster built on firm old Hollywood foundations such as cracking dialog, star power wattage, and old school stunt work. It’s also a movie about making movies, which Hollywood has adored since its outset. It’s also the best damn time I’ve had in a movie theater here at SXSW 2024.

The Fall Guy is honestly cinematic catnip for me as an action movie aficionado. But what I think is important to point out is that while there’s a hundred easter eggs for lovers of action movies and stunt work, this movie plays for comedy lovers and romance fans as well. We meet Ryan Gosling’s Colt Seavers when he’s flying high: Hopelessly in love with Emily Blunt’s Jody Moreno. He’s a stunt man and she’s got dreams of being a director. He’s been the go to stunt double for top Hollywood star Tom Ryder (Aaron Taylor-Johnson nailing a hilarious riff on Matthew McConaughey) for years and despite Ryder being a tool, he couldn’t ask for much more. Until he’s majorly injured on set and disappears from the world for a couple years. But when Ryder’s producer Gail (Ted Lasso’s Hannah Waddingham) calls to get Seaver’s to help Jody finish her directorial debut amidst the hush-hushed disappearance of Ryder, he’s on a plane in an instant with a hope to rekindle things with Jody after he blew it. 

Everything works when it comes to the romance of The Fall Guy. I’m quite the opposite of a romantic comedy aficionado, but even I can appreciate when sparks fly and obstacles arise and all you want in the whole world is for the guy to make it on time to that date and not spoil everything. It’s a great dynamic that they both clearly love each other, but Jody has been burned and is on the cusp of a major career breakthrough as the director of the mega-blockbuster Metal Storm, a cowboy/alien sci-fi blockbuster. And Colt is trying to help her finish her movie by keeping it under wraps that he’s actually trying to locate her missing star. The whole premise is honestly delightful and makes for enough comedic bits, charming romance, and action set pieces to please all four quadrants. There’s something for men and women, young and old, in this David Leitch vehicle. 

But more than anything, The Fall Guy is an unrepentant love letter to the stunt community that has brought us cinematic thrills and chills since the dawn of the medium. While there’s still no Oscar awarded to the stunt community, The Fall Guy’s mere existence is another brick in the wall of the argument that the Academy absolutely must adopt a new award for these crucial talents in cinema. Leitch himself is the perfect blockbuster director to take on this material, as he came up as a stuntman for decades before making the leap to filmmaker with a little known actioner called… John Wick! He’s since tackled various big blockbuster titles to varying degrees of success with Atomic Blonde, Hobbs & Shaw, and Bullet Train. Whatever you thought about any of the films he’s directed thus far, I’m here to say that The Fall Guy is the perfect marriage of maker to material. Leitch is one of the leaders of action design firm 87Eleven, and a branch or offshoot of that action design company, 87North, was heavily involved in this production. So Leitch was simply primed to explode with this material, showing off all that the stunt community can do, honoring, referencing, and riffing on great action cinema quotes and stunts throughout the runtime. He also makes the case for that Oscar, showcasing old school stunts and even breaking a barrel roll vehicle flip record on this production. And he does it all while ALSO simply making a fantastic movie with the perfectly generous cast who are willing to humbly point the spotlight at the behind the camera talent that make movie magic happen. 

Speaking of that cast, it isn’t just the leads I’ve mentioned thus far that make an impression. You’ve also got Winston Duke, Stephanie Hsu, and even a damn dog that charms its way through this thing. A cameo or two may also delight audiences who are paying attention. 

If I had anything critical to say about the film, it does have some dodgy CG elements in a set piece or two, but those are easily looked over amidst a full on charm offensive and a tongue-in-cheek tone that reveres its action without ever taking itself too seriously. And with any modern genre blend experiment things can get a little overly complicated at times in terms of set pieces that have to have a million moving parts to hold a modern audience’s attention. But those are minor quibbles to be sure, and while mileage can always vary in terms of how much chemistry or subjective humor translates from one person to the next, I personally feel The Fall Guy is one of the most outright entertaining blockbusters audiences will see in 2024. 

As has always been the tradition, come for the beautiful people emblazoned on the silver screen, and stay for the laughs and thrills of the characters you’ll come to love thanks to all the below the line talent that work their asses off to make the stars shine. It’s old school, it’s tried and true, and it makes you feel great about going to the cinema again. 

And I’m Out.

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