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Hollywood stuntman Colt Seavers (Ryan Gosling) doesn’t know who he is anymore. After a disastrous fall, the guy sees himself as a failure, unworthy of his girlfriend Jody (Emily Blunt) and his career. So without explanation he turns his broken back on both and becomes a parking valet. Eighteen months later, when Gail (Hannah Waddingham), the producer of Jody’s directorial debut, calls and says Jody needs his help, Colt thinks he’s got a shot at redemption. There’s just one little problem: Gail lied.

Jody is not happy to see her ex-flame. Rather than rekindling the spark between them, she sets him on fire. Over and over again. It’s just another day at work for Colt, but it still hurts. There’s a bigger problem on set, though. The moviestar Colt is supposed to double, Tom Ryder (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), has been missing for days. But, Gail says, if Colt tracks him down, he can save Jody’s movie.

In his search for the hard-partying Ryder, Colt ends up drugged and hallucinates a unicorn, finds a dead body, teams up with a stunt dog named Jean-Claude who only understands French, and gets into a lot of real-life action scenes. Oh, and that dead guy? He was murdered and someone wants Colt to be the (wait for it) fall guy. If you think about it at all, this potential frameup makes no sense. But I think that’s the point. Literally everyone in the film industry thinks they’re a writer, and very few can do it well.

As much as The Fall Guy is an action flick, it’s also a love-letter romance. Amidst all the fighting, chasing, and karaoke, Colt and Jody find that they still adore each other. Their relationship is as charming and wholesome as a Hallmark movie. Just with more explosions. As the villains’ plot unravels, Colt and Jody work together to write a new ending, also with lots of explosions and some only-in-the-movies trickery.

All of this violence is very controlled and exciting, showcasing the work of real-life stunt performers. Unfortunately, it’s the abundance of PG-13 profanities and blasphemies that will keep many otherwise interested families away. Also, we could probably do without Jean-Claude only attacking the male anatomy. Yet for all its faults, the movie has noble intentions, reminding us that “a joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones” (Prov. 17:22). And the unknown stuntman needs healthy bones even more than recognition.

Fans of Lee Majors’ The Fall Guy TV show will have to squint real hard to find the similarities in this reinterpretation. For one thing, Gosling doesn’t have Majors’ gruff ruggedness. In his obligatory cameo we see that even at 85, the guy’s still got it. On its own, though, The Fall Guy is a refreshing break from the superhero movies and bloody, violent action films. (Universal Pictures, In theaters, and streaming for rent on Apple TV+, Amazon Prime, and other platforms)

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