It’s the second partnership or Derek Cianfrance and Ryan Gosling after Blue Valentine (which I have not seen yet – I intend to though). This one is led by an bigger cast of Eva Mendes, Bradley Cooper, Ray Liotta and Rose Byrne.
This film can essentially be broken up into three parts due to the events throughout the film. The first act is probably my favourite. It opens with a wonderfully long, unbroken shot of Luke Glanton (Ryan Gosling) walking to his motorbike for his ball of death show. When he enters the tent it is clear he is a bit of a local celebrity with the attention paid to him, even kids call for his autograph after the show, which he signs Handsome Luke in block capitals.
This is where we meet Romina (Eva Mendes) a past fling for Luke, after the second night of the show, he goes back to her house to visit her to learn he fathered her baby, named Jason. Luke, faced with a dilemma decides to stick around for the sake of Jason. Needing money, he gets a job for minimum wage, but it not being enough he decides to rob banks with his boss, using his motorcycle and riding into the back of an unmarked truck. These scenes in particular are fascinating to watch.
Trying to provide for Jason, Luke and Kofi eventually get into an altercation and Luke is arrested. Which is odd, as when he smashes Kofi’s face with the tool, he tells them to call an ambulance and calmly waits for it to arrive, instead of making a getaway, like the outlaw he is meant to be.
“If you ride like lightning, you’re gonna crash like thunder”
During his last robbery, Luke is chased down by beat cop Avery Cross (Bradley Cooper) who chases Luke into a house and has a standoff with Luke in which Avery shoots first, but Luke shoots back and fall out the window and is killed. Something I did not expect, as Ryan does have the top billing in the film. I thought that it would be the full film of bank robberies and Bradley Cooper pursuing him. This essentially ties up this first act of the film.
After recovering from his injury Avery is starting to be hailed as a hero cop, even though he did shoot first. But learning that Luke fathered a son, Avery begins to become visibly distressed handling his own son, and when his cop buddies come to his door, he learns something else about the force being corrupt, led by Deluca (Ray Liotta). Placed on the evidence room, as he is welcomed back into work, he is asked to help out guys by taking some cocaine from the evidence locker. When he tries to report the money to the police chief, he dismisses this and states it’s not his problem, but Avery’s.
Deluca scares Cross into helping him get the cocaine which he responds with recording the conversation with one of Deluca’s buddies and takes it as part of blackmail and wants to be made assistant district attorney. An investigation is made into the police department and the arrests of Deluca and his crew are made. This would then end with a 15 years later where Avery’s son, AJ is now grown up and wanting to live with his father instead of his mother, who are now broken up. This comes at the time of Avery’s fathers death and we learn that Avery is making a run are attorney general.
The last part of the film coincidentally is about the two teenagers, AJ and (you guessed it) Jason. Avery finds out about their companionship and tries to immediately put a stop to it. AJ and Jason continue to be in cohorts, but only due to the owing of money between the two. Jason also learns about his real father and quizzes his mother on it too.
Now I won’t spoil the ending of what happens, but the third and finale is a probably the weakest part of the film and feels very, rushed. Overall, the film has a bit of everything. The action sequences from the bank robberies, to the drama involving Avery and the corrupt officials. As mentioned, the ending is probably the weakest point, as well as the story. The story is a lot of be dragged out over the 140 minutes run time.
If you’re expecting just a solid film of Ryan Gosling robbing banks on a motorcycle, then needless to say this film is not for you. It delves deeper, and the character development over time changes to suit the environment they are living in. AJ is a kid who is going off the rails and Jason can be seen as a kid who is already off them. I largely enjoyed the fact that in the trailer, you saw Ryan Gosling robbing banks and Bradley Cooper pursuing him down and when watching the film there’s a lot more than what meets the eye. All in all, I enjoyed many aspects of this film, admittedly, it does wear thin entering the last half hour, but it is still very enjoyable.