POTENTIAL SPOILERS AHEAD
Ben Affleck is an actor who went through a long spell where he would just make bad movie, after bad movie. With films like Paycheck, Gigli and Jersey Girl he seemed like he didn’t want to be taken seriously as an actor. However it all changed when Mr Affleck made his directorial debut in 2007 with Gone Baby Gone. Since then he has gone from strength to strength with his directing and acting by picking more exciting and respectful projects. Let’s see if he continues this trend with Live By Night.
With the plot summary from IMDB Live By Night is about “A group of Boston-bred gangsters set up shop in balmy Florida during the Prohibition era, facing off against the competition and the Ku Klux Klan”. The film stars Ben Affleck (Gone Girl, Good Will Hunting), Chris Cooper (American Beauty, Adaptation), Zoe Saldana (Avatar, Guardians Of The Galaxy), Elle Fanning (The Neon Demon, Super 8) and Chris Messina (Vicky, Cristina, Barcelona, Devil) and it’s directed by Ben Affleck (Argo, The Town).
I have to say the film is very meh. It is hard to describe my disappointment for this film, as I was excited to see Ben Affleck would do next after Argo. The idea of him directing a prohibition gangster movie was a thrilling and exciting prospect, however it looks like this is a misstep in Ben’s career as a director. One of the problems I had with the film was the fact that he is playing an anti-hero….again. He manged to pull it off in The Town, because he had a good group of supporting characters around him. But here the anti- hero shtick doesn’t work, it falls quite flat because you don’t know if you should route for him or not. One minute he wants to be a good guy and not be involved with the mob, and then the next moment he is playing gangster and killing people. He should really stick with one rather than yo-yoing between the two. Maybe it’s time for Affleck to take a step back from acting in his movies and just concentrate on directing?
Another major problem with the film is that there aren’t any good supporting characters in this film. They all seem to be there just to serve Ben Affleck’s character and don’t really add anything to the narrative. If you look at something like The Town, each character has been developed and given an interesting back story and clear motives in that film. However in Live By Night there are just there for the sake of it and you don’t really care about them. This is a big shame because with a bit more development it could have saved the film and potentially make it a timeless gangster flick.
Overall I’d rate this film as Wait For VOD/Netflix. I know I have criticised this film a lot but it does have some redeeming factors such as the cinematography and costume design. It is a film that you’ll watch if you’re having a quiet night in. However if you really want to watch a good prohibition/ 1930s era gangster film I’d recommend Road To Perdition or a TV show called Boardwalk Empire.