Oscar winner Ben Affleck (Argo) directs and stars in Live By Night, an American crime drama about a young man from Boston and his desire for revenge. The film is based on the award-winning best-seller by Dennis Lehane and is written for the screen by Affleck himself. A film that starts with a lot of promise but quickly loses steam and struggles to make it to the finish.
Joe Coughlin (Ben Affleck) is the son of a Boston Police Deputy Superintendent, a WWI vet, and an outlaw. He’s a man with a good heart who seems destined for a better path, but it’s his anti-establishment ways that keep him in business for himself. Joe works with a loyal crew including Dion (Chris Messina), a close friend who’s got Joe’s back under any condition. Joe falls for Emma (Sienna Miller), the girlfriend of Irish gangster Albert White (Robert Glenister) and the two have a secret love affair, but when the gangster finds out, it forces Joe to make some life changing decisions. Driven by a need to right the wrongs committed against him, Joe accepts an alliance with the Italian mob and a move to Tampa with his crew to run the rum business there. But every decision comes at a cost as does the price of revenge, and Joe is about to find out just how much.
Live By Night, on the surface, is an enjoyable enough gangster film. An all star cast including Zoe Saldana, Sienna Miller, Chris Cooper, Brendan Gleeson and Elle Fanning do their best to provide insight into their personal piece of the elaborate puzzle, and each actor does an admirable job to help bring their character arc to fulfillment, but Ben Affleck tries to navigate thru the myriad of storylines he’s created and ultimately leaves the story winded and the characters unfulfilling.
Overall, the film sets out to tell a gangster story and it does just that, but the journey is long and tiresome and loses it’s muster about halfway thru. Should you see it? Sure, but don’t expect the next Godfather, for that it is not.
3 out of 5
After Credit Scene?