“If you ride like lightning, you’re going to crash like thunder.”
– Robin Van Der Zee
Passing through Altamount, New York, motorcycle stuntman for traveling act for state fairs Luke Glanton (Ryan Gosling) gets visited by his ex-lover, Romina (Eva Mendes). He returns a year later to discover from her mother Malena (Olga Merediz) that he is the father of a young boy. Intent on being in his son’s life, Luke quits the fair and meets Robin Van Der Zee (Ben Mendelsohn), who gives him a job at his auto repair shop. Luke is not making the money he needs to provide for Romina, her mother and her son, and she is not willing to leave her new man, Kofi (Mahershala Ali). This sparks unrest, and Luke gets desperate. In his desperation, he is roped in to Robin’s plans to rob banks to make money quickly, and the two team up to make a small fortune. However, an altercation with Kofi leads to Luke getting locked up and later bailed out, and Robin calls for an end to their bank robbing ways. This is simply not good enough for Luke, who will do it on his own then.
Naturally, there was no way that that was going to go down well, and in the escape, Luke is killed by Officer Avery Cross (Bradley Cooper) just after telling Romina to never tell their son about him. A new chapter begins in which Avery is the hero in the story, but soon things go awry. Friends in the police force, corrupt cops Scotty (Gabe Fazio) and Peter Deluca (Ray Liotta) take Avery to the house of Romina, where they harass her and later steal the money that Luke left for his son. Avery is wracked with guilt, and attempts to report the abuse that was rained down upon Romina and her family to his commanding officer. This does not make matters better, naturally, and Avery goes from being the city hero to the most hated man in the precinct. Turning to his father, Al (Harris Yulin), Avery manages to get incriminating evidence which he uses to secure his position as the assistant district attorney.
Fifteen years after the debacle that was Luke’s death and the launchpad for Avery’s career, Avery’s father passes. His ex-wife, Jannifer (Rose Byrne) tells him that his son, AJ (Emory Cohen), insists that he wishes to stay with his father. Avery is in the midst of campaigning for the position of Attorney General, but finally relents. Starting school AJ meets up with Jason (Dane DeHaan). Together the boys have their own family issues, but become friends for a short while after smoking some pot together. However, after buying some ecstasy, the two are arrested by police. Avery is furious with his son, but shocked to discover at the police station that his son was with Jason, the son of Luke Glanton. He gets the charges squashed a bit and demands that AJ no longer see Jason. Boys will be boys, though soon each boy’s lives begin to crack and crumble. AJ, the rebel with the successful father, wishes to walk over everyone and be hero worshipped. Jason demands to know more about his family, though no one is willing to give him answers.
Slowly but surely each boy digs their way further into things that were better left unsaid and undone. Will AJ continue to bend Jason to his will? Will Avery ever be able to admit that what he did to Luke was wrong, and that he rode through that accident to success? Will Jason ever learn more about his father, discover his secrets, dig around more and understand things that were always denied him? How will all these characters come together, and how will they impact one another. One mishap years ago seems to resonate through the past and into the present and future.
This film scores a well-founded 8/10 for The Place Beyond The Pines. I really enjoyed how you could see the three distinct “chapters” of this movie, so to speak, and it has a pretty decent cast. It was interesting to see how Luke was always going to be an outlaw, regular just wasn’t ever going to work for him. It is sad to see how he goes from wanting any and everything to do with his child to not existing in his child’s eye. Bradley Cooper was great as a regular cop who went in and had his whole life changed around because his nerves were shot. How he maneuvered his way into higher office than he was was excellent, though it was rough to see a good cop become just another one of those crappy corrupt men. The divine intervention that brought the sons together was interesting, too. I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed the camera work for the movie, and everything was well shot and looked stunning. The movie feels a lot longer than it is, and not because it is not a good flick or boring, just due to the sheer amount of story that they manage to squeeze into their time frame. Dane DeHaan had another excellent performance, and I truly feel that he is a vastly underrated actor who deserves a lot more recognition. Not a bad watch at all, I was pleasantly surprised, seeing as I had no idea what to expect after Luke was killed. Not bad.