Movie Review: ‘The Fall Guy: Extended Version’

by | May 23, 2024 | Featured, Movie Reviews, Movies | 0 comments

Greetings again from the darkness. Today’s CGI and special effects can be stunning and awe-inspiring, and clearly movie audiences have come to embrace this approach as evidenced by the success of Star Wars and superhero franchises, as well as plenty of other blockbusters over the past couple of decades. In contrast, stuntman-turned-director David Leitch (BULLET TRAIN, 2022, ATOMIC BLONDE, 2017, JOHN WICK, 2015) and screenwriter Drew Pearce (MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE – ROGUE NATION, 2015) have delivered a throwback by adapting the TV series from creator Glen A Larson, which ran for 112 episodes in the 1980’s.

Two key players from last year’s “Barbenheimer” box office rivalry, Ryan Gosling and Emily Blunt, are the featured players here as Colt Seavers and Jody Moreno. Colt is a renowned stuntman and Jody is a camera operator and aspiring film director. When we first see them on set, Colt is preparing for a dangerous stunt as a double for mega-action film star Tom Ryder (Aaron Taylor-Johnson, BULLET TRAIN). Between shots, Colt and Jody are expounding on their previous flirtations and making plans for the future. The stunt goes wrong. Colt is rushed to the hospital and the film flashes forward 18 months to find Colt working a menial non-stuntman job, and Jody directing her first film, METALSTORM, a sci-fi action thriller.

Jody’s directorial debut also stars Tom Ryder and is produced by fast-talking producer Gail Meyer (Hannah Waddingham, “Ted Lasso”). Gail draws Colt out of retirement and back to the set under false pretenses. Of course, sparks fly again between Colt and Jody, but Gail’s ulterior motive is for Colt to track down the missing Tom Ryder. So, let’s stop here and chat about this movie for a moment. First of all, it’s rare action-comedy-romance-mystery film. It also offers a peek at the structured chaos of a movie set, as well as the diverse personalities of actors, crew, and producers. Possibly what it does best is shine a spotlight on the stunt crew, noted here as the unsung heroes. There is even a crack about there not being an Oscar for stunt work (a topic that’s been debated and discussed at the Academy).

The film certainly benefits from the charisma and talent of Gosling and Blunt, both of whom were nominated for Oscars last year. And Leitch’s film also deserves credit for being an ode to action movies and a love letter to stunt performers. But let’s face it … the story here is pretty thin and seems to exist only to provide a reason for the stream of ideas designed to take advantage of Gosling and Blunt and a few other gags. Drugs that cause unicorn sightings, a running joke about a cup of coffee, a “Miami Vice” jacket, a dog that responds only to French commands, and some ‘on the nose’ music – and familiar sound effects from “The Six Million Dollar Man” all add to the nostalgic feel (along with a Wilhelm scream). And while I join many movie-goers in sharing Colt’s desire to “beat the ____ out of Aaron Taylor-Johnson’s character”, I’ll admit to finding some joy in Tom Ryder riffing on Matthew McConaughey.

The extended version I saw featured an additional 20 minutes to the theatrical version, and it appears most of it was for one particular fight scene being filmed in Jody’s movie. Supporting work seemed a bit sparse for the talented Stephanis Hsu (EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE ALL AT ONCE, 2022), Winston Duke (BLACK PANTHER, 2018), and Teresa Palmer (BERLIN SYNDROME, 2017). What wasn’t sparse was the number of adrenaline-pumping stunts and explosions. Those segments were big fun and a welcome answer to the recent barrage of CGI/Special Effects blockbusters. This one has a throwback feel that bathes us in nostalgia at times, recalling the wild films of Burt Reynolds and Indiana Jones. There is even a late scene featuring the two lead actors (Lee Majors, Heather Thomas) of the old TV series. Whatever you do, stick around for the closing credits to get a look at the actual process behind the stunts included in the film … educational and full of wow factor.

Now showing in theaters and available on Digital.

David Ferguson
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