Genre: Drama
Director: Ben Affleck
Cast: Ben Affleck, Elle Fanning, Chris Messina, Sienna Miller, Zoe Saldana, Chris Cooper, Anthony Michael Hall, Scott Eastwood, Brendan Gleeson
Runtime: 2 hrs 9 mins
Rating: M18 (Sexual Scenes and Violence)
Released By: Warner Bros
Official Website:

Opening Day: 26 January 2017

Synopsis: “Live by Night” is set in the roaring '20s, when Prohibition hasn’t stopped the flow of booze in an underground network of gangster-run speakeasies. The opportunity to gain power and money is there for any man with enough ambition and nerve, and Joe Coughlin, the son of the Boston Police Superintendent, long ago turned his back on his strict upbringing for the spoils of being an outlaw. But even among criminals there are rules, and Joe breaks a big one: crossing a powerful mob boss by stealing his money and his moll. The fiery affair ends in tragedy, setting Joe on a path of revenge, ambition, romance and betrayal that propels him out of Boston and up the ladder of Tampa’s steamy rum-running underworld.

Movie Review:

2012 was a good year for Ben Affleck. It was the year he directed Argo, a movie based on real life events. Affleck played the protagonist of the film – a CIAagent who acted under the cover of a Hollywoodproducer scouting a location for a science fiction film. His true mission is to launch a dangerous operation to rescue six Americans who were held hostage in Tehranin 1980. The film received widespread acclaim, won several awards and garnered seven nominations at the 85th Academy Awards (it took home the Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Film Editing prizes). Affleck got his first Best Director nomination at the Oscars, and things looked great for him.

Four years later, Affleck releases his next directorial work, a supposed passion project which reportedly cost $65 million to produce and tens of millions more to distribute and market. But alas, judging from how reviews, things aren’t looking good.

Adapted from a 2012 novel of the same name by Dennis Lehane, it chronicles the trials and tribulations of a World War I veteran in the 1920s. Played by Affleck himself (read: passion project), the character Joe Coughlin is of Irish descent and the son of a Bostonpolice captain. Fate has it that he falls in love with the mistress of a notorious gangster, messes things up and goes on to settle himself in the underworld scene and finds a new lover. Things chug along and a criminal empire is formed, with Joe in the centre and giving a all too serious narration to make sure you are following the storyline.

Affleck hasn’t been missing from showbiz too long, considering his performances in Gone Girl (2014), The Accountant (2016) and of course, as the caped crusader in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016). If you have spent enough time on the Internet, you wouldn’t be unfamiliar to the term “sadfleck”. Somehow, that unbearable sadness translates to this movie. The moment the 44 year old appears on screen, one can’t help but feel this actor, who was once considered a heartthrob, looks tired, withdrawn and lifeless.

It doesn’t help that the great premise of the movie (Gangsters! Corrupt cops! Loyalties and betrayals!) is bogged down by a sense of weariness and dullness. You can be sure this is mobster flick is nowhere close to classics like Goodfellas, Scarface and The Godfather series. With a runtime of 129 minutes, the movie struggles to engage its viewers, no thanks to uneven pacing and plot development.

There are a few standout performances though. Elle Fanning (Trumbo, The Neon Demon) is disturbingly convincing as a young girl who heads to Hollywood, unfortunately becomes a heroin addict prostitute, and eventually returning home to be a devout Christian preacher. Chris Cooper (The Muppets, August: OsageCounty) doesn’t have much screen time as a righteous sheriff, but the reliable actor commands the scene every time he appears. Elsewhere, Sienna Miller, Zoe Saldana and Chris Messina fill supporting roles.

Despite looking good (thanks to Robert Richardson’s cinematography), the movie feels nothing more than a dreary attempt to make an epic gangster drama.

Movie Rating:

(We hope Sadfleck can cheer up a little and inject some life into his next movie)   

Review by John Li

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