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Paul Asay

Movie Review

Colt Seavers used to fall for a living.

Sure, it wasn’t all falling. Sometimes he’d just dangle off a helicopter. Or throw himself against a rock. Or maybe light himself on fire.

All in a day’s work for a Hollywood stuntman.

Not that Colt complained about all the falls and jumps and flames. As the go-to body double for the Tom Ryder, one of the top action stars on the planet, work was fun. The pay was decent. And more often than not, he worked side-by-side with his camera-operating girlfriend, Jody Moreno.

But all that was before Colt had an uncomfortable reunion with gravity: A fall went wrong, and the accident broke his back, his spirit and his relationship. And while he physically recovered, Colt abandoned his career and Jody both. He works as a valet now: The closest he gets to stunt work is parallel parking.

Or it was—until Gail called.

That’d be Executive Producer Gail. Hollywood Mogul Gail. Tom Ryder’s Favorite Film Exec Gail. Seems that Tom’s working on another huge movie in Australia—something called Metalstorm. Gail wants Colt to get back in the game and be the film’s primary stuntman.

Oh, and did Gail mention that Jody—Colt’s still-beloved ex-girlfriend—is the film’s director? And that she asked for Colt specifically?

That’s all Colt needs to hear. He hops on the first flight to Australia, arrives on set and discovers that Jody … said no such thing. In fact, she’d be quite happy if Colt took the first flight home.

Executive producers have never been known for their honesty.

But soon, Gail tells Colt why she really flew him all the way to Australia: Tom is missing. He hasn’t been seen for days. Gail knows that Tom and Colt have a long history: If anyone can find the movie star, sober him up and get him back on set, it’s Colt.

But finding Tom won’t be so easy.

For years, Colt used to fall for a living. But this time he’s working without a harness—and he just might be falling into more than he can handle.

Positive Elements

Stuntpeople take a lot of abuse. Literally. It’s their job. But Colt and his fellow stunt performers endure the bruises with stoicism and a smile—if they’re still relatively ambulatory—and a thumbs-up sign.

And throughout the film, we hear variations on one basic theme rooted in the important quality of resilience: It’s not so important whether you get knocked down, but whether you get up after. You deal with the bumps and bruises—on the job and in life—and move on. You smile. You flash a thumbs-up to show you’re good to go for the next one.

That’s an admirable attitude in context. But as Colt admits, sometimes you can’t keep moving forward. Sometimes, you need to heal and deal with your problems and even let people help you. And that, too, is an important reminder.

We should note that Colt clearly still cares deeply for Jody, and that manifests itself in a lot of extra work, risk and sacrifice. True, she may never want to see him again. But that doesn’t stop Colt from doing everything he can to make sure that Jody’s film is a success. If that means doing stunts for her film, so be it. If it means dragging her star back to the set, he’ll do that, too. And if helping Jody means getting embroiled in even more complications? Colt will go above and beyond.

He’s not alone. We see plenty of other people support each other when the need arises. And that’s nice to see.

Spiritual Elements

Colt presses his hands together in a sort of mock sign of respect to Tom. Someone wishes Colt “Godspeed.”

Sexual Content

Colt and Jody were engaged in a steady, presumably sexual romance back in the day. We see flashbacks to moments they shared involving kissing and cuddling. And when Colt and Jody meet again, Colt suggestively tells her that she looks good in “anything” and “nothing.”

Jody, for her part, isn’t prepared to move on romantically just yet. During one stunt sequence for the movie Metalstorm, Jody unpacks the movie’s love story—a thinly veiled retelling, it would seem, of their own star-crossed romance. She talks about the good times the Metalstorm’s protagonists shared—but how the human “Space Cowboy” jilted his alien lover and broke her heart. She then tells Colt about the number of wild, tawdry flings the “alien” had in the aftermath, most of which involved some earth-shaking encounters. (We’re led to believe she’s referring to the quality of sex the alien had.)

During better times, Colt and Jody banter about finding a nice beach somewhere, where they can don “swim costumes” (the British phrase for bathing suits) and make “bad decisions.”

Several guys go shirtless (or wear open coats that showcase their abs), and women wear tight and cleavage-revealing outfits. There’s a joke involving a man having an affair with his wife’s sister. A video clip taken at a wild party involves some odd wrestling that seems to wink at a bit of homoeroticism. A corpse appears to be at least partially naked underneath a layer of ice (and nothing critical is seen).

Violent Content

Colt discovers a dead body in a hotel bathroom, covered in ice. Someone is tied up and beaten; we see plenty of blood on the victim’s face. Gasoline-fueled fires are lit—sometimes on people. In flashback, Colt makes his ill-fated jump that led to his near career-ending injury. We don’t see exactly what happens, but we do see the bloodied stuntman being wheeled down a hospital hallway. An explosion obliterates the boat and seems to kill the guy driving it. Suicide is mentioned several times.

People get into some pretty insane-looking melees involving fists, feet, headbutts and a variety of weapons. Guns are fired with alacrity. Blades whistle through the air and sometimes land with a thunk in walls. Props become effective melee weapons. People jump, fall or are thrown over pieces of furniture, causing a great deal of property damage in route. Colt battles a bevy of baddies with bottles—including thwacking someone in the face with a champagne cork fired from one.

People fall or are kicked out of moving cars to tumble on the pavement. Someone is knocked unconscious (but survives) during a car stunt. A well-trained stunt dog is ordered to bite several combatants in the crotch. (He does his job well.) Someone is kicked in the chest. A particular stunt apparatus is sabotaged, with the saboteur intentionally trying to inflict injury. A costumed man sneaks up on a woman and is immediately and ruthlessly attacked (including stabbing a pen into the man’s thigh). He’s hit, kicked, choked and thwacked with a number of impromptu weapons at the ready.

Meanwhile, on set, Colt is set on fire and yanked into a cliff face repeatedly—a measure of revenge that Jody exacts on him for their broken relationship. He’s also the centerpiece of a sprawling battle scene involving guns and swords and lots of explosions. (Without special effects, the scene looks rather tame and somewhat laughable.) a car tumbles in the sand several times before coming to a stop—upside down. (The stuntman inside is just fine.) Massive explosions detonate.

Crude or Profane Language

Two f-words and nearly 30 s-words. We also hear “a–,” “h—” and “d–n.” God’s name is misused at least 20 times (five of which include the word “d–n”), and Jesus’ name is misused five times. Several middle fingers are seen.

Drug and Alcohol Content

We’re told that Tom Ryder’s disappearance coincides with heavy drug use, and we see footage from a party where a lot of drugs were involved. (We hear several references to Tom’s drug use elsewhere, too.)

During the course of his investigation, Colt questions Tom’s drug dealer: The club where the meeting takes place is awash in alcohol. Colt refuses booze, but when he’s brought a supposedly non-alcoholic Shirley Temple, he quickly discovers the drink has been spiked with an unknown drug. Colt’s fighting abilities seem unimpaired, but it does cause plenty of hallucinations; he’s told that once he stops seeing unicorns, he’ll know the drug has finally worn off. (He sees unicorns for quite a while thereafter, and when he’s confronted by a police officer, he feels the man’s face to make sure he’s actually there.)

Jody, Gail and other members of the movie’s crew go to a bar to sing karaoke and drink. Some of them seem to get inebriated, and several down alcoholic shots. Colt and Jody have a running joke involving “spicy margaritas,” the drinking of which would lead to bad (read, in their minds, fun) decisions. After fighting with a handful of villains, Colt and a stunt dog go to a bar: Colt orders himself a tropical cocktail and soaks his aching fist in the beverage, while the dog just laps from a glass of water.

Other Negative Elements

Several lies are told during the course of the movie, and we’re witness to an act or two of betrayal. A crew leader threatens to gut members of his crew like fish. Tom Ryder behaves just like you’d expect a spoiled, rich actor to behave.


On one hand, The Fall Guy—based (very) loosely on the 1980s TV show of the same name—offers moviegoers a dose of summer escapism. Ryan Gosling and Emily Blunt are eminently likable as Colt and Jody. The film is filled with plenty of winks and nods: Jody asks Colt whether in-movie split-screen scenes are effective or a gimmick … while engaging in a split-screen scene. Sometimes we’ll hear a weird, echoey sound effect when Colt is diving or leaping or doing something—an homage to The Six Million Dollar Man. (Both Six Million and The Fall Guy TV show starred Lee Majors.) It’s light. It’s fun. It’s clever.

And it’s got problems.

As fun and frothy as the film feels, its nods to torture, suicide and murder belie the story’s lighthearted vibe. And while The Fall Guy is more romantic than sensual, lines and jokes are made that point to more intimate situations. As for the movie’s language—well, the harsh profanities push right up to an R-rating without actually stepping into it.

We mentioned that Colt and other stuntpeople are known for giving a thumbs-up sign after every stunt—unless, of course, their thumbs are actually broken. They might be bruised or bleeding or hurting like crazy, but they’re determined not to let anyone see even a hint of weakness—even if that weakness comes in the form of a separated shoulder. I’m fine, they’ll insist, even if that’s not quite so.

You could make the argument that The Fall Guy itself takes its lead from those admittedly brave, talented men and women who risk life and limb to entertain us. It, too, gives us the old “thumbs up.” It’s light! It’s fun! It’s absolutely fine for the whole family! It tells us. But that’s not quite so.

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Paul Asay

Paul Asay has been part of the Plugged In staff since 2007, watching and reviewing roughly 15 quintillion movies and television shows. He’s written for a number of other publications, too, including Time, The Washington Post and Christianity Today. The author of several books, Paul loves to find spirituality in unexpected places, including popular entertainment, and he loves all things superhero. His vices include James Bond films, Mountain Dew and terrible B-grade movies. He’s married, has two children and a neurotic dog, runs marathons on occasion and hopes to someday own his own tuxedo. Feel free to follow him on Twitter @AsayPaul.