Wouldn’t it be great if a stunt person got the spotlight for once? I mean, they get into crazy car crashes, throw themselves out of airplanes at 20,000 ft, and take the fall to violently roll down many flights of stairs at the apex of our beloved fight scenes. Would it kill for more than just an acknowledgment at the end credits of a film? Well, Colt Seaver (Ryan Gosling) feels right being the top choice in this line of work as the long-time stunt double for A-list star Tom Ryder (Aaron Taylor-Johnson). He gets to do his thing, get paid well, and spend time letting a budding romance with camerawoman and aspiring director Jody Moreno (Emily Blunt) develop. That’s until a stunt from 12 stories up goes wrong, and Colt sustains a horrible back injury. He becomes somewhat of a recluse working as a valet, completely shutting Jody out until he gets a faithful call from producer extraordinaire Gail Meyer (Hannah Waddingham) to spring back to action in Sydney, Australia. 

Of course, Colt would say no; he’s still jarred by his accident a year later. However, the film is Jody’s directorial debut, a western, sci-fi, space-starred crossed love story named ‘Metalstorm.’ Colt immediately reconsiders, and that’s as much set up director David Leitch (an ex-stuntman himself) and writer Drew Pearce gives you with ‘The Fall Guy.” It’s a film of many forms carried to success by its charismatic performances. ‘The Fall Guy’ is a meta-commentary on making a movie and the sometimes monotonous processes of getting the right shots, making script adjustments, and topping every heart-stopping set piece with the next one. Instead of just being a “this is how the meal is made behind the scenes” type film, it embraces all the absurdity of being an over-the-top action film while finding its way back to rom-com territory. It’s messy at points but very enjoyable in its entire presentation. 

This image released by Universal Pictures shows Emily Blunt, left, and Ryan Gosling in a scene from “The Fall Guy.” (Universal Pictures via AP)

When Colt arrives on set, he understandably has jittery feelings based on the previous accident. His stunt coordinator and often movie-quoting friend Dan Tucker (Winston Duke) is there to help him along. Most of all, Colt wonders if he could make up for this by committing a disappearing act on Jody. At first, their seeing each other is rocky, and they speak through a funny dialogue, spelling out Metalstorm’s plot based on their breakup. There’s something wrong before Colt can commit to that with his full attention. Tom has gone missing, and Colt is tasked with uncovering his disappearance. Oh, and this has to happen within 48 hours, or the studio will pull the plug on Jody’s shot at Comic-Con and Hall H. At this turn, Leich commits to the balancing act of uncovering this mystery with a lot of bombastic action while the love story is figuring itself out. Gosling commits to the bit, flipping on a dime where he goes into classic 80s action star mode and, at the same time, turns on the comedic chops, crying in a truck to Taylor Swift’s ‘All Too Well.’ Blunt, in how she portrays Jodie using the same methods of comedy and drama, is a great pair that are the anchors of this film. Duke, Taylor-Johnson, and Waddingham also add their flavors to the film, along with some brief appearances from Teresa Palmer and Stephanie Hsu. 

Leitch also buys into a certain amount of campiness with a continuous needle drop of  Kiss’s 1979 “I Was Made for Lovin’ You,” which even makes its way into Dominic Lewis’s score. An impressive part of ‘The Fall Guy’ comes from the practicality of the action, which would come from CGI in modern times. As this film serves as a sort of homage to the crazy set pieces in the Stallone/Schwarzenegger heyday, everything feels natural, which adds a sense of style and flair to them.’The Fall Guy’ celebrates the popcorn flick and the people below the line—even if it sometimes overstays its welcome with excessive twists and turns. It has much to say about what the action word has become, and it starts to wobble into what it wants to be. Despite that, the fun factor never wanes, and it’ll make you remember why we love these summer films so much.

Photo Credit: Universal Pictures via AP