Ryan Gosling hits every action, comedy and romantic note in The Fall Guy

A stuntman returns to the biz (and an ex) in action-rom-com The Fall Guy. It might not challenge stars Ryan Gosling and Emily Blunt (or the audience), writes Katie Parker – but as a big, bombastic blockbuster starring two of the most bankable stars in the world, it’s a whole lot of fun.

When Ryan Gosling took to the stage at this years Oscars to perform I’m Just Ken, his undeniably irresistible musical number from Greta Gerwig’s Barbie, the difference between him and his peers was stark; in a room full of Hollywood’s current biggest names, many of whom had already had their turn at the podium attempting awkward hackneyed banter that elicited only the politest of laughs, Gosling all at once brought the night alive without ever taking off his sunglasses—a true star in an era when such creatures are all but extinct.

Of course, many of us have known for years that Gosling is a top tier Hollywood player. But, in this rousing, crowd pleasing, seemingly effortless performance, his gravitas was on full display—making it all the more frustrating that, in his hit-and-miss, increasingly action-focused, career, he so rarely seems to find material able to rise up and meet him.

Based on the 1980s TV series of the same name, David Leitch’s The Fall Guy isn’t exactly new territory for Gosling. As Colt Seavers, a charming, muscle-bound Hollywood stuntman whose career—and relationship with hot wannabe-director Jody (Emily Blunt)—is suddenly and dramatically detailed after a back-breaking accident, he’s playing all the hits. Fortunately, they’re ones audiences will be only too happy to hear once again.

Joining Colt 18 months after leaving the movie business, ghosting Jody, and going off the grid, he is still licking his wounds when cutthroat producer Gail (Hannah Waddingham) lures him back to the industry with a job working on Jody’s directorial debut, starring Tom Ryder (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), the massive movie star Colt used to stunt double for.

Arriving in Sydney poised for reconciliation, however, Colt discovers Gail has another agenda. Tom has got mixed up with the wrong people and disappeared and, knowing that Colt will do anything to save Jody’s movie, Gail has assigned Colt the difficult task of locating him. Jody, meanwhile, isn’t as psyched to see Colt as he had hoped, having spent the better part of the last year getting over his own vanishing act.

What follows is part rom-com, part action blockbuster, as Colt uses his brains and his brawn to get to the bottom of Tom’s whereabouts while keeping Jody none-the-wiser that her movie may be about to go down the drain. Car chases, double-crossing, cute dogs, and crying to Taylor Swift ensue, and Gosling can’t help but hit every note.

At over two hours long, though, it’s an awfully long song. With the central mystery left oddly underdeveloped and Colt’s detective work barely off the ground before it proves entirely pointless, time and time again a sense of momentum is achieved and then abandoned. Blunt—an incredibly adept and charismatic performer who, much like Gosling, seems slightly stuck in frustratingly middling mainstream fare—is also curiously underused and, just by virtue of her character being kept in the dark about Colt’s goings-on, is kept on the periphery for the majority of the movie.

Add in a few too many jokes that fall flat (Taylor-Johnson’s parody of an entitled Hollywood hunk in particular never quite gels), and a strangely meandering script, there’s an awful lot of bloat dulling the blade of The Fall Guy’s sharpest moments.

In the aforementioned Oscars ceremony, Gosling and Blunt appeared onstage together to present the Best Supporting Actor gong. Playfully roasting each other over the BarbieOppenheimer rivalry that played out when the films released on the same day—she accused him of spray painting his abs as Ken, he accused her of riding Barbie’s coattails—the joy of seeing two of Hollywood’s most charismatic people engage successfully in witty back and forth nearly rivalled the pure brilliance of Gosling’s musical performance.

As marketing stunts go, it could not have been a better advertisement for The Fall Guy, which rests almost entirely on the prowess and chemistry of its two leads. Playing essentially a likeable everyman and a likeable everywoman, it’s hardly a challenge for either of them—but it is still a pleasure to see them flex their skills with ease, effortlessly riffing and bringing out each other’s A-game.

Pairing that with the goofy parody baked into the sci-fi film Jody is making, some gleefully silly moments, and a genuinely touching sense of affection for the stunt double profession, The Fall Guy may not be taking anyone out of their comfort zone—but as a big, bombastic blockbuster starring two of the most bankable stars in the world, it’s a whole lot of fun.