It has taken a long time for Derek Cianfrance’s crime drama to make it to Hong Kong (in fact it doesn’t even open officially here for another month) but it has ridden a wave of mostly good buzz. The Blue Valentine director re-teams with star Ryan Gosling, who here plays Luke, a stunt driver in a travelling circus who opts to stick around on discovering that a fling with Eva Mandes’ waitress the previous year has produced a son. Despite the fact she now has a new man in her life, Luke looks to provide for the baby, but with no real prospects, soon finds himself and his motorbike working as a getaway driver for Ben Mendelsohn’s bank robber. Bradley Cooper puts in a fine turn as a young idealistic police officer who is currently struggling to come to terms with the fact that corruption is endemic throughout his department, most notably his senior officer, played by Ray Liotta.
Cianfrance approaches the story, which spans fifteen years and two generations, as if he is regaling a grand crime epic in the mold of Coppola’s Godfather trilogy, but the story is ultimately too conventional to really deserve the grandeur with which it is presented. That said the cast is excellent, with Gosling and Cooper both continuing to prove themselves as bona fide leaders of their generation, while Liotta and Mendelsohn offer effortless, yet impressive support.
The biggest problem with the film, however, is in its final act, which rests heavily on the shoulders of the adequate Dane DeHaan and the clearly inadequate Emory Cohen, resulting in a film that peters out rather than builds to a resonant climax. Still, the impressive first two thirds should prove strong enough to carry audiences through to the film’s close.