Doesn’t Live To It’s Full Potential

live-by-night

 

Gangster movies have been a major component to American cinema for quite some time. With established films like The Godfather series, Scarface, among other films, sometimes it can be hard to produce a quality modern day crime film. But Ben Affleck has made an attempt this weekend with the movie Live by Night. Can Affleck’s recent resurgence revitalize the gang movie, or does his operation go belly up before it gets started?  Robbie K here with another review and as always appreciate the read.

 

LIKES:

  • Solid acting
  • Incredible Setting and Costumes
  • Very Detailed Description of a mob rising

 

Summary: Affleck’s stoic, monotone, performances continue to find footholds in a variety of parts, and his portrayal of a gangster with a conscience is spot on.  Although not the most emotionally dynamic character, Affleck’s tactics work in portraying a man struggling with the trials at hand. Chris Messina as his sidekick has more of an edge that helps offset the monotone delivery of the lead role. Other actors do their job of crafting the seedy mob family, being cunning, ruthless, or strong to accomplish their goals.  If the acting doesn’t sell the gangster setting than the costumes and scenery will do the trick. Live by Night uses the big budget of the film industry to recreate the roaring 20s, complete with old fashioned zoot suits, classic car models, and the nostalgic traditional models of high-end restaurants.  I felt I had traveled back in time in this flick, with only the high definition cameras and a recognition of modern day fabric to shatter the illusion.  Finally, the other component that sells the crime theme is the attention to detail of starting a crime syndicate.  Most other crime movies often have our character in an established family, but Live By Night twists this concept and casts Affleck into raising a satellite family in Florida.  Much of the film is focuses on how he establishes business contracts, allies, love, occasionally throwing in some conflict resolution that brings a little excitement to the film.

 

DISLIKES:

  • Slow pace
  • Awkward Summaries
  • Boring At times
  • Rushed over ending

 

Summary: Although some of my favorite mafia movies don’t have action, they at least have an engaging plot that is suspenseful.  Not the case for this movie. Live by Night is slow, often paying a little too much attention to monotonous details for building the empire.  The film tried to build the suspense with their overdone explanations that promised some heart crushing moments… only to wrap things up with a monologue from Affleck describing what happened.  These mundane, overlapping comments did little for me other than decrease the run time of the movie and I was disappointed at the lack of effort for drama.  The result for me was a very boring film not only in terms of action, but in emotional suspense as well.  If you look at the classics, the storytellers built up tension that climaxed at those gut-wrenching moments as a character was killed.  However in this film, they seldom came close to matching that suspense, the only exception being two moments near the end of the film. And speaking of the ending… it felt out of place for me.  Live By nights “exciting” climax has a heated battle that fits well into the theme of the movie, but finally relieves the boring moments.  Had they ended with the monologue after that it would have been perfect.  Yet, the movie didn’t stop and added an extra twenty minutes that summed things up, but in a manner that to me was very simplistic, rushed, and lackluster. 

 

The VERDICT:

 

Live by Night is a gangster movie that felt more like a video guide to starting a bootlegging operation.  It certainly has the look and feel of a gangster movie, complete with family drama, but it lacks that edge the mobster classics had.  Outside of a few moments, this movie was a little toned down for my tastes, and I didn’t like the monologue summaries as they robbed us of some exciting conclusions.  Therefore, this reviewer can’t recommend this movie for the theater outside of the look of the movie. 

 

My scores are:

 

Crime Drama: 6.5

Movie Overall:  5.0

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