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‘THE FALL GUY’ Movie Review: a High-Octane Celebration of the Stunt Community with an Incredibly Game Cast

Synopsis: He’s a stuntman, and like everyone in the stunt community, he gets blown up, shot, crashed, thrown through windows, and dropped from the highest of heights, all for our entertainment. And now, fresh off an almost career-ending accident, this working-class hero has to track down a missing movie star, solve a conspiracy, and try to win back the love of his life while still doing his day job. What could possibly go right?

Of the many TV shows I avidly watched in my youth, including “The A-Team,” “Knight Rider,” “Cover Up,” “Midnight Caller,” “Automan,” “Quantum Leap” and “Manimal”, the one I followed the most religiously was “The Fall Guy”. As a die-hard fan, I went into the new film adaptation with both hope and trepidation. I was confident that director David Leitch (Bullet Train, Dead Pool 2) would leverage his stunt background to take the action to new heights, aided by the substantial budget. But at the same time, I feared it would end up neglecting the heart and charm of the beloved ’80s original in favour of a superficial stunt reel.

Screenwriter Drew Pearce (Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw, Hotel Artemis) succeeds in channeling the cheeky wit and campy charm of the original series created by Glen A. Larson, eliciting laughs with inside jokes and nods to the show’s legacy. Unfortunately though, despite Ryan Gosling and Emily Blunt sizzling with chemistry, much of the romanticism of the film felt poorly written and there were various long-winded sections that pulled me right out of the film until the action kicked in once again.

Besides this, the premise didn’t provide anything particularly original, echoing recent adaptations of cult TV shows like “Baywatch” and “Starsky and Hutch” so nothing really comes as a huge surprise once the red herrings and twists are thrown around. Despite these problems, the film’s real strengths lie in its extravagant action sequences, boasting impressive practical effects and daring stunts that beg to be seen on the big screen. If only they had stripped off some of the fat from the script, as I’m sure it would have worked far better at a leaner 90 minutes.

Despite containing a somewhat formulaic storyline, The Fall Guy still succeeds as an infectiously fun and entertaining film thanks to its immensely likeable cast who are all clearly having a blast. Besides Blunt and Gosling, Aaron Taylor-Johnson is perfectly cast as superstar Tom Ryder, oozing ego and entitlement in a way that pokes fun at celebrity culture. His scenes with producer Gail Meyer, played to perfection by Hannah Waddingham, highlight the absurdity of Hollywood in a way that adds greatly to the film’s comedy.

Yet the true scene-stealer is Winston Duke as stunt team leader Dan Tucker. Though he has limited screen time, Duke makes every moment count with hilarious quips and sharp delivery that leave audiences wanting more. The film also smartly incorporates key elements of nostalgia, like Colt’s iconic 1981 GMC pickup truck, featured prominently throughout. And fans will delight at the parade of surprise cameos, which I won’t spoil here, but which include some very unexpected yet incredibly game choices.

Overall, this story of one of America’s great unsung heroes is a largely entertaining watch that delivers a long-overdue tribute to the under-appreciated stunt performers who help make movie magic happen. While not a flawless adaptation of the original series, it evokes the show’s spirit well enough to deliver two hours of high-octane, popcorn-munching action that demands to be seen on the big screen for full appreciation. With its heartfelt celebration of stunt professionals and relentless barrage of explosive set-pieces, The Fall Guy might not be the perfect movie fans of the original series were expecting but it’s arguably one of the most insane in the proverbial membrane stunt films ever made.

VERDICT:

Universal Pictures releases The Fall Guy in cinemas from May 2, 2024.

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