Ben Affleck is a talented guy. There is very little point denying it. But don’t you just hate it when you know that they know that?
From the first few moments of Live By Night, you can tell that Ben Affleck knows he’s the tits. And it’s something that runs through the film right to the final credits – where he gives himself separate notices for his acting, writing, directing and producing positions right at the front of the reel to make sure we KNOW that this film is his baby.
The thing is, while he plays a super cool gangster with a beautiful wife, life and inexplicably pure white suits (even in the middle of shootouts), the film itself isn’t actually that good.
It’s entertaining, yes. But not that good.
The film follows Affleck’s character of Joe Coughlin, a bank robber turned gangster who is hell bent on getting his revenge on a big crime boss. Making his money peddling his wares during the prohibition era, his team become unstoppable (according to Joe, the narrator), and glosses over the things that make his character not so likeable. He’s just a guy wanting to provide for his family, ya know? You gotta love that guy.
However, you have to presume that as the storyteller, Joe is downplaying his role in things somewhat – or overplaying them to make him look better. At one point, he appears to make the bold claim that he is responsible for the eradication of the KKK in Florida (hahahahahahahaha) – and another he manages to send a man insane and yet we’re meant to feel bad for JOE when that goes tits up (no spoilers).
Sienna Miller was great but had a terrible Irish accent and was underused. Chris Messina was light relief as Joe’s right-hand man, but again isn’t fleshed out enough. Zoe Saldana is amazing but again, little more than eye candy. It appears that there are only two, barely fully-realised characters in this film – and one of them is Ben bloody Affleck.
Like I said, it’s not an unenjoyable film. But it’s sloppy plot and over-dramatic areas weren’t made up for by the pretty clothes and the big bangs.
You won’t regret missing it but it kills two hours. A distinctly average film.
Live By Night is available in cinemas now.