One Step Beyond Too Much
Having met Romina (Eva Mendes) when the circus was in town the previous year, stunt bike rider Luke (Ryan Gosling) returns with the circus to discover he has a son. But Romina has a new life with a new man and whilst she still feels something for Luke she won't break up what she has. Luke decides to stay around, quitting the circus and ending up partnering up with mechanic Robin who says with Luke's riding skills they could rob banks. But after a few successful bank jobs, things sour and when Luke does one on his own he finds himself being chased by the Police and in particular Officer Avery Cross (Bradley Cooper).
I will stop there with the synopsis and state spoiler alert because to review "The Place Beyond the Pines" I have to tell you major plot aspects.
Now I have been known to watch Danielle Steel movies and you may be wondering where I am going with this but quite often a Danielle Steel movie will start at a certain point and end up decades later involving the children of the characters who started the movie. That is what you get with "The Place Beyond the Pines" because it starts with Luke and 16 years after meeting him the movie ends with his son Jason except "The Place Beyond the Pines" is a hell of a lot grittier than any Danielle Steel movie you would come across. In fact it is so gritty we have a scene which sees Luke dead on the floor having been shot and fallen from a window with blood pouring from his head.
That brings me to my next point because there are those who will look to watch "The Place Beyond the Pines" because they have seen the adverts and trailers which focus on Ryan Gosling as this really cool bank robber doing the crime to provide for his son and win his girl back except less than half way through the movie he is dead and the focus switches to Bradley Cooper as Avery, the cop who killed him and did so having not followed procedure leading to a sense of guilt. You got to feel for Cooper because Gosling stamps his mark on the movie as the tattooed and ultra cool Luke and suddenly you are following on as this straight laced cop, just a regular cop with political ambitions.
Anyway once Luke is dead and we have Avery's guilt dealt with along with some other things including police corruption it jumps 15 years and the focus switches to Luke's son Jason and Avery's son A.J. who have become friends. It's a big coincidence but needed for what follows which is Jason not only learning about who his father was but learning that Avery was the man who killed him leading to anger and drama and I will leave it there because there might as well be some surprise as to the ending of "The Place Beyond the Pines".
The thing is that whilst the part which stars Ryan Gosling is entertaining the rest of the movie ends up ordinary despite some nice writing. Part of the trouble is that whilst Bradley Cooper is solid and handles his part well it doesn't call for the same sort of charisma and cool which Ryan Gosling gets to deliver as Luke and so everything in this movie ends up not only in the shadow of that first part but in the shadow of Gosling. I hate to say it considering the calibre of the cast in "The Place Beyond the Pines" but if it wasn't for Gosling's pitch perfect performance during those first 50 minutes the rest of the movie would have ended up even weaker.
What this all boils down to is that "The Place Beyond the Pines" is an entertaining movie, a gritty drama which starts off as one thing and becomes something else. Unfortunately that something else is not a patch on what it starts off as and ends up not as good as it could have been.