Photo courtesy Universal Pictures

“On my fall from the tower building, so Burt Reynolds don’t get hurt
I might leap the mighty canyon, so he can kiss and flirt.
Well, that smooth talker’s kissing my girl – I’m just kissing dirt,
Yes, I’m the lonely stuntman, that made a lover out of Burt.”

“The Unknown Stuntman”by Lee Majors

Stunt performers just might be finally getting their due. Stunt work is as old as Hollywood, and in that lineage from Buster Keaton to “Ben-Hur” to “Fast & Furious,” those performers have mostly toiled in anonymity. 

But following the incredible stunt work in the recent “John Wick” franchise, there has been a push to give stunts their own Oscars’ category. Driving the point home and unofficially kicking off the summer blockbuster season is “The Fall Guy.”

Loosely cribbing from the 1980s TV show of the same name where Lee Majors played a stuntman who had a side-hustle as a bounty hunter, “The Fall Guy” is a goofy, sweet love letter to stunt performers.

Ryan Gosling plays Colt Seavers, an unappreciated stunt-double for egotistical movie star Tom Ryder (Aaron Taylor-Johnson). Colt is sweet on camera operator Jody Moreno (Emily Blunt) and the two have a blossoming romance until a literal falling-out sets them on different paths.

Sometime later, Colt receives a phone call from producer Gail Meyer (Hannah Waddingham) asking him to come to Australia and track down Tom who has gone missing from the set of his latest movie – which just so happens to be Jody’s directorial debut.

Colt and Jody have to patch things up and uncover a sinister conspiracy in order to find Tom and save the movie. “The Fall Guy” is a silly movie that exists solely to entertain the audience and call attention to the eye-popping stunts that happen throughout the film.

Director David Leitch, himself a former stuntman, certainly knows his way around action, but he’s also smart enough to get out of the way and let Gosling and Blunt’s chemistry and charisma do the work when things aren’t exploding.

Leitch also has a knack for visual comedy, best illustrated in a sequence when Colt has his drink laced with a hallucinogenic drug. The movie also works as a biting satire of the film-industry as a whole.

There seems to be a trend where audiences are responding more to practical effects and sets where CGI is used only for enhancements as opposed to being the star of the show. It will be interesting to see if “The Fall Guy” continues that trend. At the very least it gives stunt performers enough love that they shouldn’t have to play second-fiddle to the likes of Burt Reynolds anymore.

“The Fall Guy” is rated PG-13 for action and violence, drug content and some strong language. 

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