Film Review: Live By Night

“I Signed Up To Fight In The War. I Went Away a Soldier, I Came Home An Outlaw…”

In order to really make a substantial wave in the genre of gangster movies, one has to stand up upon the shoulders of giants, classic movies which act as the linchpin of cinematic history and are unanimously regarded as plain and simple masterpieces. Whilst the ones that spring to mind include the likes of The Godfather, Goodfellas and Casino, all movies which arrive at the top-end of their respective genre, recent portrayals of the well-worn gangster theme have somewhat added to the notion that the best will indeed never be matched in terms of their overall impact on cinematic history, particularly when you take the likes of Black Mass and Legend in recent years, cases of films which are executed in an overly solid fashion yet are undeniably forgettable in the context of the genre in which they are placed. With Live By Night, the latest pet project from Ben Affleck who follows in the footsteps of movies such as Argo and The Town by writing, directing and starring in the lead role, Affleck takes on the esteemed gangster genre and whilst parts of the film are reasonably commendable, like many have already pointed out already, Affleck’s latest does feel like a quickly jumbled together release, due in part to Affleck’s high-profile role in the DC Universe, resulting in a movie which can only be regarded as a resounding disappointment.

Focusing primarily and wholly generically within the era of prohibition, Live By Night feels too much of a sweeping cinematic slog, attempting to cram in as many narrative swings as possible and subsequently suffering from a wide range of issues such as two-dimensional characters, a laughably stereotypical lead villain and a concluding act which verges on the edge of storytelling at its’ most basic and immature. Whilst Affleck tries to do his best in both a directorial capacity and in the leading role, the overtly familiar feel of the script doesn’t do the film any sense of justice whatsoever, a resounding shame when considering the book on which it was based on, written by Mystic River and Shutter Island author Dennis Lehane. Star of the show belongs entirely to Chris Cooper as the conflicted Sheriff Irving Figgis, whilst Elle Fanning follows on from her superb performance in The Neon Demon by producing a solid, believable performance as Figgis’s daughter with the time she manages to bag on-screen. With previous successes with both Argo and The Town, Affleck’s latest is unfortunately in a completely different ball park in terms of critical success, and whilst I enjoy a good gangster flick as much as the next guy, Live By Night makes Legend look like The Godfather. 

Overall Score: 5/10

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Posted on 16/01/2017, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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