About thirty minutes into The Place Beyond The Pines, my wife was perusing facebook on her phone and I was out of excuses to keep us engaged in watching the film. Not to say the plot was dull or that the acting was bad, in fact, both were interesting, but the pacing was so slow, it was hard not to drift.
Then, without warning, the movie throws a few curveballs and the plot kicks in to high gear.
Ryan Gosling plays Luke, a traveling stunt motorcyclist (I swear this isn’t Driver 2) who finds out a woman he had a fling with a few summers back has given birth to his child. Luke quits his job to stay local and become a father figure for the boy. Unfortunately, the child’s mother, played by Eva Mendes, has moved on with her life and now lives with her boyfriend, who has no interest in allowing Luke to come around. The down on his luck motorcyclist turns to robbing banks, using his riding skills, after meeting an unlikely partner in town.
Enter Avery, an ambitious cop looking to climb the ladder on the force and beyond, who sets his sights on chasing down the motorcycle-riding bank robber. The cop is played by Bradley Cooper who doesn’t appear until over 40 minutes into the film. His portrayal of a beat cop anxious to be out of his father’s far-reaching shadow helps glue the film together. Especially the way he handles a run-in with a powerful detective, played by Ray Liotta.
As the film played out, and we grew more invested, I wondered why the beginning had been dragged out so long when there was so much more story to tell. The film jumps ahead several years, as a second generation of characters continue to feel and live with the consequences of a single bank robbery gone wrong.
To no one’s surprise, I enjoyed the film’s soundtrack, provided by Mike Patton, but I felt the droning, ambience of the music exaggerated the tempo at the beginning of the film. The dark intensity serves the film much better as the action grows.
The Place Beyond The Pines has a few twists and turns in the second half of the film to keep you on the edge of your seat, and as a parent, I was left wondering just how far I would be willing to go to protect my children.