Gosling’s got charisma-plus but The Fall Guy misses its mark

April 25, 2024
3 mins read

The Fall Guy

ASHTON BROWN can’t get his pecker up about a film that despite good stunt work is just another day another dollar for Ryan Gosling.

I predicted three things as The Fall Guy started: it would be charismatic, there would be a twist two-thirds of the way through, and it would outstay its welcome. I was right.  If only it had as much charisma as it thinks it does. Don’t get me wrong, Ryan Gosling oozes charisma, even when he’s doing films with a script this broad and jokes this tried and tested, but even he and the usually fantastic but sadly checked-out Emily Blunt, are unable to provide anything more than the occasional laugh and eye roll.

It makes sense that director David Leitch previously directed the (78th?) sequel to The Fast & Furious, the spin-off Hobbs And Shaw. Partway through The Fall Guy, I thought I’d accidentally fallen into a DVD time machine and was watching the very first The Fast & Furious movie. Sadly it’s no longer 2001 and I’m not 13 years old anymore. So this movie, which could have literally been any action comedy from the early 2000s, failed to do almost anything for me.

Before I explain in more detail I’d like to say there are absolutely people who will like this film. Its use of broad humour, very exciting action sequences and famously likeable leads will definitely make some casual filmgoers happy. The guy behind me for instance, laughed at every single joke, was gasping at all the action sequences, and I felt like he wanted to throw his hat in the air at the end. So if you like your cinema predictable, cheesy and forgettable, then power to you. Watch it. There’s no shame in that and I’m not trying to suggest that there is – in fact, I’m sure it’ll smash the box office so you can feel comforted that the problem here is me.

The Fall Guy knows it’s cheesy. It’s intentionally on the nose. The opening scene is Gosling narrating over a montage of his character where he says, “That’s me, I’m the stunt man,” which is basically the movie equivalent of a wink. It’s the film saying, “Hey, have some fun. We know this is a silly movie. Don’t take it too seriously! We didn’t.” This isn’t a problem in itself, not every film has to be Schindler’s List, but I’m not going to let it get away with being an unoriginal fireworks display just because it nudges and grins at me the whole time.

This overly tongue-in-cheek approach also works against its own undeveloped deeper message. The Fall Guy spends a bit of time showing the passion, hard work and devotion of the people who work in the film industry. From the long hours of the producers to the life-threatening stunts that stunt men and women put themselves through. I couldn’t help but feel the over-the-top silliness of the movie wasn’t the right way to tell this story of passion and dedication. The message gets completely lost and even wasted because The Fall Guy drowns this concept out behind a goofy, almost cartoonish style. Even if you ignore this underlying message and simply view it as a brainless action/comedy, it’s still too scared to step away from every cliche spat out by the genre over the last 20 years. It’s not willing to take any risks. It even tries to make us believe that Ryan Gosling is an everyday plain-looking dude with a “Mr Potato-Head looking face”. Which might have been a funny line except we are talking about the romantic lead from The Notebook. 

To its credit, there are some excellent action scenes and impressive stunt work, which is fortunate in a movie about stunties, but if you try to look any deeper than that all you’ll be left with is some painfully bad exposition, clunky pacing and jokes that Chat-GPT could have churned out for a lot cheaper than 125 million dollars.

If you love Rush Hour and what you want from a movie hasn’t changed since Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker teamed up to yell each other’s character names while searching for Ricky Tang’s laptop, then you will probably get a kick out of The Fall Guy. However, for those of you who want to feel something other than your eyes attempting to roll out of their sockets, you are unlikely to find anything more here than good-looking people filling in time before their next good film.

+ The Fall Guy screens nationwide in NZ from Thursday April 25.

Ashton Brown is Witchdoctor's craft beer writer and film reviewer, and a self-professed geek, horror fanatic and post-rock enthusiast.

Ashton Brown is a freelance reviewer, writer, actor and director. You may have seen him on some ads (he's the big hairy guy) or at the NZ Comedy Festival. He's Witchdoctor's craft beer writer and film reviewer, and a self-professed geek, horror fanatic and post-rock enthusiast.

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