The Fall Guy Makes Case For Stunt Ensemble Oscar Category

L to R: Emily Blunt is Judy Moreno and Ryan Gosling is Colt Seavers in THE FALL GUY, directed by David Leitch. © Universal Studios. All Rights Reserved.

The Fall Guy works as a love letter to stunt teams but it’s all the more reasoning for the Oscars to add a Stunt Ensemble category. Come on, Academy!

There is a mid-credit scene. Light spoilers follow.

David Leitch has his roots in stunt work so it’s only natural that he would make a film about a stuntman. Guymon Casady couldn’t have picked a better filmmaker. Look at his filmography and see what his background brings to those films. The David Leitch touch can make an action film even better. I have my own issues with Deadpool 2 but that’s another story. You can tell how personal it is just from the care that went into making the film. Rather than the typical gag reel at the end, there’s an entire reel of stunts during the end credits, leading into a mid-credits scene. In terms of the film itself, it’s a solid action-comedy. I can definitely see why this film was selected for SXSW in March. This is the kind of film that really plays well for SXSW audiences, not to mention headlining at the Paramount Theatre.

Colt Seavers (Ryan Gosling) suffered a horrible back injury while doing a stunt and then went off the grid. Now working as a valet, he’s wanted for stunt working. It just so happen that Metalstorm‘s director is none other than his ex, Jody Moreno (Emily Blunt). Oh yeah, she has no idea that he’s coming to work on the film so his arrival stirs up buried feelings. Once the buried feelings come back up to the surface, it impacts the film itself. As if this isn’t enough for Colt, the film’s producer, Gail Meyer (Hannah Waddingham), has him searching for Tom Ryder (Aaron Taylor-Johnson). The search gets stunt coordinator Dan Tucker (Winston Duke) involved. The further Colt searches, he learns that there’s more here than meets the eye. It certainly doesn’t help when he discovers a dead body on the rocks in the hotel bathtub.

Gosling does some of his own stunts in the film for authenticity purposes. Otherwise, his own stunt doubles are standing in for him much in the same way that Colt Seavers does for Tom Ryder. He does the 12-story fall himself. Despite his fear of heights, he was able to overcome it if only for the moment. It helps having filmmakers and stunt teams that one can trust, including stunt designer Chris O’Hara. O’Hara is the first-ever stunt coordinator to receive the stunt designer credit.

As far as Tom Ryder goes, he’s the type of narcissistic actor that has no business working in Hollywood. No producer or director would put up with him missing in action. And yet, he’s gone MIA, which leads to Gail flying Colt to Australia. What we learn about Gail in the end is that she’s the type of producer who enables Tom’s misbehavior. It’s unfortunate but the reality is that there are producers similar to Gail. Would they go as far as her? I’d like to think not but you never know.

L to R: Ryan Gosling, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Ben Jenkin, Logan Holladay, Justin Eaton, and David Leitch on the set of THE FALL GUY, directed by David Leitch.
L to R: Ryan Gosling, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Ben Jenkin, Logan Holladay, Justin Eaton, and David Leitch on the set of THE FALL GUY, directed by David Leitch. © Universal Studios. All Rights Reserved. (Eric Laciste/Universal Pictures)

One can make the argument that David Leitch’s entire Hollywood career has been leading up to this film. After all, he is a filmmaker with no shortage of experience in the stunt world. Drew Pearce’s script pays homage to the original 1980s series–two of the series stars have cameo appearances–but Pearce and Leitch add their own touch in the process. You don’t necessarily need to be familiar with the original series either. Anyway, there are a solid amount of laugh lines in the film.  Usually, laughter would be contagious in a theatrical setting. Unfortunately, the screening that I attended on Wednesday afternoon was a private showing. What can I say? It was competing for attention with a baseball game. But regardless, I had a lot of fun watching the film!

Here’s David Leitch discussing the film being a love letter to stunt performers in the production notes:

“The Fall Guy, to me, is truly a love letter to stunt performers and the unsung heroes of the film industry—the highly skilled and talented artisans who contribute their passion and dedication to the art of moviemaking. It’s a tribute to the production designers, cinematographers, grips, electrics, PAs, ADs, and everyone in between who pours their hearts and souls into crafting the magic of storytelling on screen. This project holds a special place in my heart because it weaves in real-life anecdotes from my journey as a stunt performer and a part of the crew.”

Stand-out stunts:

  • Cannon roll
  • Alma (Stephanie Hsu)/Colt Chase Sequence
  • 225-Foot Car Jump
  • The Boat Jump
  • The High Fall From Helicopter

Action films really do not get much better than The Fall Guy especially when it comes to showing off the stunt work. Of course, they get riskier the further we get into the film. Much of what they do in the film is practical. If you’re going to make a film about stuntmen, it must be authentic. There is a reason why many of us are pushing for a stunt ensemble category at the Oscars! Let me just say that the film also feels like a nice change of pace from CGI spectacles. Nothing against them but it’s just nice to see something light on CGI every now and then. This isn’t to take anything away from VFX crews in general. Hell, this film has VFX work but much of it is practical and on location.

I like that Metalstorm features a female director. It feels like a rarity in this day an age–a major studio trusting a woman to direct a film with a very expensive budget. Jody has a background in cinematography before taking on the sci-fi love story, which is similar to Leitch’s own transition from stuntman to director. Maybe Jody being the director of Metalstorm will show more Hollywood types that women are just as capable of directing blockbuster tentpoles as men. Who knows, maybe this film will–in its own way–inspire young girls/women to pick up the camera.

The Fall Guy has the right mix of romance, comedy, and action while beautifully highlighting the stunt work that go into the filmmaking process. If you enjoyed watching the film and want to honor additional stunt work, I recommend watching April Wright’s documentary, Stuntwomen: The Untold Hollywood Story.

DIRECTOR: David Leitch
CAST: Ryan Gosling, Emily Blunt, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Hannah Waddingham, Teresa Palmer, Stephanie Hsu, and Winston Duke

Universal Pictures released The Fall Guy in theaters on May 3, 2024. Grade: 5/5

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Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.