Saturday, 14 January 2017
#5 LIVE BY NIGHT
Starring Ben Affleck, Zoe Saldana, Sienna Miller, Elle Fanning, Brendan Glesson, Chris Messina, Robert Glenister and Chris Cooper. Written and directed by Ben Affleck. 129 minutes long. Budget $65 million. Certificate 15.
Ben Affleck is Joe, the Boston son of an Irish police chief (Brendan Glesson) and a First World War veteran who comes back from the war a changed man, a man who refuses to obey the laws of anyone ever again, thus becoming an outlaw. To achieve this he robs banks and shags the moll, Emma (Sienna Miller) of Albert White (Robert Glenister). That is until White finds out and kills Emma and Joe is jailed for 2 years for the deaths of 3 police men.
Two years later, Joe is released two weeks after his dad dies and he heads out on the revenge trail, by teaming up with White's rival Italian mob boss, Maso (Remo Girone) and taking over the lucrative rum business in Tampa Bay and running White out of town. Then he has to battle the KKK, an evangelical preacher in the shape of Loretta (Elle Fanning) and Maso's stupid son known as the Digger. All the while Joe falls in love with the sister of a Cuban gangster Graciella Corrales (Zoe Saldana). There's lots of other stuff that happens but I wouldn't want to spoil the whole film for you.
This is a well mounted but utterly dreary plod through a boring man's exciting life. Told without a modicum of wit, excitement or drama this film is totally ruined by the blandness of its leading man, author and director, Ben Affleck. He sleeps through the entire film and offers only one small flash of emotion and that's in the films dying minutes. The rest of the time he plods along in one ill-fitting suit after another delivering lines in a monotonous drone and occasionally shooting a gun.
In a film overburdened by a stupidly dense plot, this film never stops for a moment to flesh out the story, it just keeps on putting down more and more plot as we trudge through one gangster's rather bland rise to the top. It builds to a big shot out glimpsed in the trailer and then very quickly ties up a couple of lose ends, chucks in one last cheap emotional kick to the teeth before slowly grinding to a halt.
This looks good, great art direction, a couple of dramatic shot-outs and car chases and some good performances. The rest of the cast try hard but are all hamstrung by a writer/director/star who just seems to be phoning in his performance. Perhaps he was more interested in what was going on behind the camera instead of what was going on in front of it. There's a sense that Affleck was trying to make a 21st Century Godfather, instead it's just another Godfather 3.