Ryan Gosling portrays Colt Seavers and Emily Blunt portrays Jody Moreno in “The Fall Guy.” (Promotional photo courtesy Universal Pictures)

Ryan Gosling portrays Colt Seavers and Emily Blunt portrays Jody Moreno in “The Fall Guy.” (Promotional photo courtesy Universal Pictures)

On the Screen: ‘Fall Guy’ a fun spotlight on an underappreciated element of filmmaking

The film follows Ryan Gosling’s Colt Seaver, a stunt performer who has spent years as the double for major action star

New action-comedy “The Fall Guy” could well have been a rote action-comedy with a great cast and accomplished all it needed to.

Instead, it’s a fun spotlight on and love letter to stunt performing — an area of filmmaking woefully underappreciated — by director David Leitch, himself a former stunt performer.

“The Fall Guy” follows Ryan Gosling’s Colt Seaver, a stunt performer who has spent years as the double for major action star. He withdraws from his career and girlfriend, a camera operator named Jody Moreno played by Emily Blunt, after a stunt goes wrong and leaves him injured.

Colt is dragged back into the action, and into a conspiracy, when he’s brought to Australia to work on Jody’s directorial debut film — a science fiction epic love story that seems to echo Colt and Jody’s experiences — and discovers that star Tom Ryder is missing. Colt investigates the disappearance, battles for his life and flips several cars to save the film and earn a second chance with Jody.

Above all else, “The Fall Guy” is funny. Gosling and Blunt are effortlessly and relentlessly charming as the paired leads, and the film leans into their comedy in a way that I hadn’t anticipated. Gosling, especially, is given a lot of latitude to be goofy as he balances his pining for Jody and exasperation with the escalating antics of the central mystery.

The film’s action is regularly unique, playing into the unique conceit of its stunt performing lead. Gosling’s Colt doesn’t win a car chase, he just puts in a mouth guard and gets hit by the car. He takes hits, falls, tumbles and is ignited aflame in a way that hits surprisingly different from most action fare.

A standout action scene is centered around prop weapons, and the film’s climax centers on an “impossible jump” rather than a physical conflict.

There’s a sense of passion on display that I hadn’t expected, and I’m not just talking about the scene where Ryan Gosling listens to Taylor Swift’s “All Too Well” while sobbing. The film portrays stunt performers as a tenacious sort who take to heart the idea of always getting back up after a fall.

“The Fall Guy” is a great opener to what’s about to become a busy summer movie season, and will more than entertain, even if it won’t leave viewers with a ton to chew on. It’s playing this weekend at the Kenai Cinema and Orca Theater. Check showtimes and purchase tickets at catheaters.com and orcatheater.com.

Reach reporter Jake Dye at jacob.dye@peninsulaclarion.com.

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