Free Falling

The main asset the big screen reboot of ’80s television series The Fall Guy evokes is the ability to be at once incomprehensible while also fun to watch.

The series ran for five seasons on ABC starting in 1981, starring Lee Majors. For me, Majors will always be Heath from The Big Valley. Heath was the bastard Barkley son. Sorry to digress.

Majors became Colt Seaver in The Fall Guy but between that and Heath he was Steve Austin in The Six-Million Dollar Man in the early-to-mid ’70s. All I’m saying is that shows that Majors starred in are ripe for franchise potential.

Who better to carry the banner into the new millennium than Ryan Gosling and Emily Blunt. Both are not only A-listers but are also coming off the juggernaut of last summer’s Barbie and Oppenheimer.

Director David Leitch actually hasn’t directed that many films yet two in particular, Atomic Blonde and Deadpool 2, are among the best genre films of the new millennium. Wait didn’t I just use new millennium earlier in this article?

That’s the kind of humor Leitch brings to Fall Guy. Repetitive groupspeak.

Which is more than made up by some of the best ever movie-stunt set-pieces that provide visually stunning sequences.

Don’t bother with the main plot that involves a deep fake video of Colt being used to frame him for a murder. Concentrate on the screwball romance between Colt and Jody Moreno (Blunt). When we meet Colt he and Jody the 1st A.C., are an item on the current movie they’re working on.

Colt has an accident that puts him on the disabled list Hollywood style. In real life a stuntwoman (Sequana Joi Harris) was killed on the set of Deadpool 2 while filming.

The Fall Guy is too lackadaisical a mystery to draw you into the enigma of its plot but still the film achieves an almost perverse interest in the completion of the movie-within-a-movie mainly to the Gosling/Blunt chemistry. There’s also the best use of a unicorn along with a split-screen sequence unrivaled since vintage De Palma.

Most intriguing is how The Fall Guy recalls two of the coolest films of the early ’80s. The Stunt Man and Hooper. The former was an Oscar® nominated Richard Rush film starring Peter O’Toole in one of his richest roles. Steve Railsback on the run from the cops stumbles onto a movie set and is hired on the spot. There are some Fall Guy cross over scenes where the performers are seen explaining how a stunt is going to be performed and then having it happen in front of your eyes.

Hooper was a Burt Reynolds vehicle directed by Hal Needham, and if you know that pair then you know it’s a match made in stunt movie heaven. Hooper ends with Reynolds punching out his director (Robert Klein). In The Fall Guy you can be guaranteed that Gosling and Blunt are not punching but smooching.

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