The Student Newspaper of DePaul University

The DePaulia

The Student Newspaper of DePaul University

The DePaulia

The Student Newspaper of DePaul University

The DePaulia

“The Fall Guy” review: Admirable passion buried under sloppy filmmaking

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Yu Yu Blue

There’s an emotional beat in David Leitch’s “The Fall Guy” in which Colt Seavers (Ryan Gosling) mourns the failure of a romantic relationship from his past. He sits in his car, unable to access his emotions, until Leitch’s fondness for diegetic needle-drops kicks in and Seavers can let himself cry. 

The song playing over this emotional montage is Taylor Swift’s “All Too Well.” I am not devoutly anti-Swift, but at this point in the film, I realized it was not for me.

It brings me no joy to report that “The Fall Guy” is an awkwardly paced pastiche of an action romance film. A reboot of the 1981 television series of the same name, the film aspires to be a low-stakes lark through the modern film industry but in its execution forgets to attach any emotional weight to itself. Ryan Gosling and Emily Blunt use the most of their natural charisma and surprising chemistry but cannot save a shallow, sterile script that dawdles on about so much that it forgets to be about anything in particular. 

The film follows Cole Seavers (Gosling), a veteran stuntman who suffers a near-fatal injury after an accidental fall on a shoot ruins his career and his budding relationship with camera operator Jody Moreno (Emily Blunt). A year afterward, he’s called back into action when producer Gail Meyer (Hannah Waddingham) pleads with him to investigate the disappearance of superstar Tom Ryder (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) on the set of Jody’s new movie. As Cole uncovers a sinister conspiracy, he attempts to rekindle his relationship with Jody. 

For something so clearly wanting to be a light summer romp, the story can get incredibly convoluted. Leitch re-teams with “Hobbs and Shaw” screenwriter Drew Pearce and in the process, we get a bunch of subplots that feel more like potential franchise set-ups than real stories. 

Talented performers like Stephanie Hsu, Winston Duke (whose action scenes pack the most punch out of any we see) and Teresa Palmer hardly get a chance to register because none of them are given much personality. 

The same goes for Blunt’s character. Jody suffers from a terminal case of being “adorkable,” and that’s all she’s allowed to be as the filmmakers sacrifice potential character building for more aimless (yet admittedly fun) flirting with Gosling. These characters aren’t there to build a world but instead to interact with Cole Seavers on his quest to also be another unremarkable action protagonist. 

Of all the film’s faults, the greatest shame are the stunts. Given Leitch’s years of experience as an actual stuntman and this movie’s heavy marketing push to honor stuntmen, it’s odd that the decision was made to paint over most of the impressive work with visual effects. 

Bad face replacement (painting Gosling’s face over the stunt people’s work in post) erases the contributions of the stunt team. Pedantic movie fans may have found issue with seeing a stuntman on screen instead of Gosling, but if it worked for “Terminator 2” I see no reason why it wouldn’t work here. Computer generated imagery used to enhance scenes (like a particularly egregious car chase through Sydney) instead distracts from already poorly timed stunts, the sloppy filmmaking resulting in every fight feeling more lethargic than kinetic. 

Leitch’s visual style is heavily informed by neon lights and bright colors (see “Atomic Blonde” and “Bullet Train”), so it’s disappointing to see his latest project fall prey to the unfortunately common trend to turn everything as gray as possible. 

There’s no vibrancy to the images, the electricity that a big summer action film like this needs is either fully absent or barely clinging to life. Everything feels safe. It leaves much of the romance (which the film does expect you to take somewhat seriously) in dire straits. Our actors aren’t very physical with one another, and despite both of their good looks, they can’t overpower an emotionless color palette. 

“The Fall Guy” makes me more sad than upset. It’s clear Leitch cares deeply about the work that stunt people do. There’s a sizzle reel of behind-the-scenes footage of the stunts that plays over the end credits, and it’s such a sadness that they look more engaging in raw iPhone footage than they do in the final film. It held so much potential, but in its attempts to look “professional,” it erases the passion of its subject matter. 

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