In a year that has been off to a sensational start with blockbusters, Ryan Gosling’s first project post-Barbie has seemingly stole a majority of the headlines due to the incredible press tour from him and co-star Emily Blunt. Guided by Bullet Train director David Leitch, two of Hollywood’s most charismatic leading stars issued a love letter to the industry with their latest film being an adaptation of one of the biggest shows of the 1980s.

    While Leitch took on the project specifically because of his background as a Hollywood stunt man, the film brought ’80s entertainment staples to a modern silver screen. It’s clear immediately that the film isn’t going to win Best Picture at next year’s Academy Awards, have a deeper meaning that attempts to be overtly poignant, or even necessarily deliver a story that treads new water. Despite this, the film provides a tight script with impeccable attention to detail, witty one-liners, and a dose of self-awareness that keeps the film from taking itself too seriously. Combine that with awe-inspiring action, innovative direction, and two charismatic leads that bring a myriad of emotions through nuanced performances of simple characters for a theatrical experience that’s unmatched.

    The action sequences aren’t exactly the best of the year with Dev Patel’s Monkey Man. The sound doesn’t quite rival Alex Garland’s Civil War. The visuals don’t jump off the page quite as much as Denis Villanueve’s Dune II. With that being said, it does all of those things incredibly well at a level that none of the other three were able to combine, while also being an easy front runner for the funniest movie of the year. When you have a script that’s paint-by-numbers, it can foster an incredibly cozy environment for the viewer to get immersed in with the right mixture of film making thanks to its familiarity, and with that, you have 2024’s biggest crowdpleaser. Leitch uses that familiar charm to the advantage of his picture, doing it in a way rewards the audience for wanting to pay attention to the seemingly innocuous details throughout.

    Not only does it show how movies are made while giving credit to Hollywood’s biggest unsung heroes, it also clearly draws inspiration from its biggest films. Aside from directly taking lines from classics such Rocky, The Fugutive, and The Last of the Mohicans, the action pays homage to the blockbusters of yesteryear a la Back to the Future and Lethal Weapon. The use of 100% practical effects in their stunts shine through as the movie exudes the old-school vibe of an action movie that transcends you into a more-fun world. The Fall Guy even set a world record for biggest car roll, set in 2006 by Daniel Craig’s first Bond movie, proving that with modern innovation and thinking, you don’t need the technology to advance the art of film making.

    None of this would have been possible without the delicate tightrope walked by Gosling, who puts up another top performance as a leading man. Gosling has done the stunt man role before, most notably in 2011’s Drive, and could have easily felt too-similar to the darker character he portrayed in Nicolas Winding Refn’s psychology thriller, yet there’s not even a semblance of similarity between the two. Coming off the massive acclaim from his role as Ken, carried both in his poise and innate comedic timing, they’re the exact antithesis of each other character wise. This is a character that would have been easy to transform back into the arrogance of Ken, but Gosling’s charm is the key to the movie. If at any point the confidence had become arrogance in demeanor, the audience is lost. Gosling always seems to know exactly how to ride the delicate and near-invisible lines to get the audience to feel every exact complexity of emotion. His versatility as an actor has become understated, but Gosling has never played two similar characters at any point in his 25 years as a notable name. The action of the movie works because of Gosling’s physicality, the humor works because of his lightness, and the serious parts are serious because of his unmatched ability to bring every actor he works with to his level of credibility. Not only is Gosling one of the last few true movie stars, he’s also one of the medium’s finest thespians and he continues to find ways to mesh the two.

    The romance angle wouldn’t have worked without the scintillating performance of Emily Blunt, who much like Gosling, is coming off an Academy Award nomination for a supporting role, hers for the part of Kitty in Oppenheimer. While Blunt’s variety of character capabilities has been unquestioned since her breakout performance in Devil Wears Prada nearly two decades ago, she seems to have solidified herself as an A-list actor since starring in the A Quiet Place series the last half-decade. Her character is straightforward, but guides the conflict. Furthermore, a certain scene with support Hannah Waddingham gives credence to her potentially ability as a female action star down the road. There’s an authenticity that Blunt provides that keeps the movie grounded enough to make everything work.

    Since returning from COVID, many directors and actors have taken on projects designed to be enjoyed theatrical as opposed to easy streaming consumption. 2022 provided Top Gun: Maverick and The Batman, 2023 provided Barbie and Godzilla: Minus One, and 2024 has given us The Fall Guy. It was made for cinema by an auteur that wants you to go to the cinema. It’s easy to get caught up in the nostalgia and say ‘they don’t make movies like that anymore,’ and then they do, and they’re everything that you need them to be.

    The Fall Guy is must-see with Distortion Media giving it two thumbs up. It was released theatrically on Thursday in select theaters, but opens everywhere in the United States on May 3rd in IMAX, Dolby, and digital.

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