Movies On Air: Should you fall for The Fall Guy? Film Review by Phil Lindeman 

There’s a line about halfway through The Fall Guy, a witty, charming, explosive ode to love and stuntmen, where the film’s cheeky tone veers dangerously close to something unexpected. 

It’s when Emily Blunt’s up-and-coming director, Jody Moreno, is ready to give Ryan Gosling’s down-and-out stuntman, Colt Seavers, a second chance at a blown romance.   

“Promise me you won’t derail this,” she says, and you feel the bone-deep yearning in her voice. I’m convinced, again, that Blunt is one of the finest actors on screen today, and I’m nearly convinced this film is deeper than its diabolical mash-up of rom-com and action. I’m sold. I’m all in. I want these two to surprise me. I want Jody to succeed. I want Colt to get the girl, and if not the girl than at least a good cup of coffee. And if they don’t end up together? C’est la vie. 

But soon enough, like any stuntman worth his scars, the tone veers back into Hollywood fantasy, where no matter how many things get blowed up real good, you know how this film will end. You’re not sure how it will get there, but there’s not enough C-4 on this planet to keep Jody and Colt from sipping spicy margaritas on a beach somewhere, ready to make bad decisions. 

The Fall Guy is the latest in a long line of self-aware Hollywood spectacles — Deadpool comes to mind; maybe also Tropic Thunder — where satire is not enough. It’s got to let us know that it knows. It’s gotta smash a flaming Kawasaki through the fourth wall. 

That is, to be fair, the point. It’s named for an ’80s TV show starring Lee Majors. (The Six Million Dollar Man himself gets a cameo.) Colt wears a Miami Vice jacket, a keepsake from his stunt work there. Jody’s movie-within-a-movie is Dune dressed up as an alien Western. (Title: METALSTORM. Tagline: “It’s high noon at the edge of the universe.”) There’s a side character who speaks in quotes from Rocky and Fast and the Furious. And I laughed. A lot. 

But is The Fall Guy in on the joke? Or exhaustingly on the nose? 

The version I saw in theaters opens with Gosling and the director, real-life stuntman David Leitch, singing praise for the unsung heroes of action cinema. Moments later, when the movie begins, Colt’s voiceover reminds us he IS the unsung hero — the guy who never gets the girl because he’s always falling from buildings, or on fire, or rolling eight times in a souped-up Chevy. 

When the lights came up, I was thinking back on Blunt’s sneeze-and-you-miss it line, about promises and derailing. The Fall Guy is bursting with promise. But what if it had gone off the rails, just the tiniest bit, without a wink and a smile? 

Or maybe I was just disappointed when literally nothing got derailed. They must be saving that for the sequel.