Ode to stunt heroes, if nothing else : The Tribune India

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Ode to stunt heroes, if nothing else

Ode to stunt heroes, if nothing else

The action-comedy fails to light up and the wit is sorely missing.

Film: The Fall Guy

Director: David Leitch

Cast: Ryan Gosling, Emily Blunt, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Winston Duke, Hannah Waddingham, Stephanie Hsu & Teresa Palmer

Johnson Thomas

In this movie, Ryan Gosling basically takes over Lee Majors’ Colt Seavers persona from the hit TV series and brings it to the big screen with all the irresistible charm and allurement he is reckoned for. He is first introduced on the set as the go-to double for bigtime action star Tom Ryder (Aaron Taylor-Johnson). Then a wired fall goes horribly wrong and Colt gets sidelined. Saddled with a broken back, Colt leaves behind a budding romance with assistant cinematographer Jody (Emily Blunt) and a stunted career in films.

Eighteen months later, having recovered and found doing valet duty, producer Gail (Hannah Waddingham) begs him to double Ryder again for Jody’s directorial debut. Colt agrees, but it’s not really smooth-sailing from thereon.

After some secondary stunts, the narrative begins to pick up pace with some romantic shenanigans. Jody obliquely berates Colt for running away from their relationship, making him redo a dangerous fire stunt several times as penance for the heartbreak he caused her.

The script by Drew Pearce then takes a new turn when Ryder goes missing. The recurring ‘I Was Made for Lovin’ You’ by KISS reminds us of the era in which the original series played and basically helps awaken some nostalgic memories.

The plot, though, is wafer-thin and has little to offer. It’s basically the stunt work and the chemistry between Blunt and Gosling that keep you engrossed. Emily Blunt and Ryan Gosling are endearing and amusing. Their romantic contretemps manage to keep you entertained while in the background, a mystery gets resolved with car chases, face-to-face action, fire blasts and speed boat fire-bombing. The narrative succeeds in delivering realistic action in flawless, breathtaking form.

The sync action finale is also delivered with a great deal of pizzaz as several vehicles crash, flip and explode, while Seavers makes an improbable helicopter jump look easy as it goes careering out of orbit. The narrative is unevenly paced and though smile-worthy, it doesn’t have enough funny lines to keep you absorbed.

The story beats that include stuntwork, live action, crime and romcom play out in too weak a fashion to sustain audience attention. The introduction section takes way too long, followed by a mid-section that feels like a hatchet job and an ending that literally blows up in your face. The action-comedy fails to light up and the wit is sorely missing. The scripting feels dull and the excitement is sorely missing. The film is held together by noble intent and affable performances by its two leads.

Blunt delivers her routines with an ambiguity that is quite beguiling while Gosling holds fort as the brawny stunt double whose attempts to make romantic small talk sound like gems out of the mouth of Hercules. Stephanie Hsu has little to do while Hannah Waddingham makes for a sly producer and Aaron Taylor-Johnson shows up as a bloated egotist.

Romcom tropes may not be sharp but they are breezy and sour enough to cause discomfort. At the very least, this is a fairly befitting ode to the unseen heroes behind many great action films.