We really weren't sure we wanted to see The Place Beyond The Pines, the new flick by Derek Cianfrance, the man who gave us Blue Valentine.
The trailer and everything else we were able to gather led us to believe it was dark and violent.
But its's a star vehicle: Bradley Cooper, Ryan Gosling, Eva Mendes, Ray Liotta.
So, we figured how bad can it be?
At nearly two-and-a-half hours with lots of grit, grime, shooting, bloodshed, shouting, mumbling, gratuitous profanity and a an ear-splitting sound level, the answer is very, very bad.
We wish we didn't have to say this, but this movie is just plain dumb.
Ryan Gosling is Luke, a down-on-his luck motorcycle stunt rider making his living with a traveling carnival. He knocks up Romina (Eva Mendes) and cries when he returns to her town a year later to discover she's delivered his baby and is now living with another man. For reasons never really explained (very little actually is ever explained in this film) Gosling cannot resolve himself to this even though the child appears to be well cared for. So, Gosling quits the carnival gig (which at least earned him a salary) and becomes a flat-out, unemployed drifter. That's when he meets up with another loser named Robin who convinces him that the two of them can makes lots of quick dough robbing banks. And so, that's what exactly Gosling does.
And of course he eventually gets snagged by the cops -- but not just any cop, a rookie cop named Avery (Bradley Cooper) who also happens to be a lawyer and is the son of a state supreme court justice. Avery (Bradley) runs Luke (Gosling) into a residential home where Luke seeks refuge after their wild car/motorcycle chase.
And, before backups arrive the good cop corners Luke in an upstairs bedroom and kills him.
Are you with us so far? Because this is just a small piece of the story. And before it's all over Cooper and Mendes cry profusely, matching Gosling tear-for-tear.
Along the way we have to find out about the bad cops (led by Ray Liotta), Avery's troubles with his wife, rampant corruption in Schenectady, Avery's disagreements with his father, Romina's conflicted relationships with Luke and her new man and her son, and Avery's psychological problems resulting from his encounter with Luke. And this is all before we jump ahead fifteen years to encounter Avery's son, Luke's son and Avery's burgeoning political career.
Gosling is abundantly tattooed, edgy and appropriately dangerous in this film but he can't make you squirm the way Al Pacino once did in Dog Day Afternoon or any one of a number of other films.
As a hero-cop turned politician Cooper uses an intense gaze and turns on an earnestness that reminds you of Paul Ryan. And you see where that got Paul Ryan.
The real standout in this film is Ben Mendelsohn as Robin, the gritty, veteran bank-robber and amateur mechanic. Mendelsohn brings so much to the character that it's astounding how much you seem to love him and hate him at the same time. Also worthy of note is Dane DeHaan as the grown-up Jason (Luke and Romina's son).
But it's all such a dingy, dreary mess. Still, it does get one thing right -- politics is a dirty, dirty business. Well, didn't we always know that?
One wonders why Gosling and Cooper got involved in this project. What the hell did they see in it?
Okay, maybe it could have been redeemed about 70% of the way through when Avery's dad dies.
Awww . . . fuhettaboutit!