Right off the bat, Live by Night is the weakest film Ben Affleck has ever made and the most depressing gangster flick I’ve watched in recent years. Entering into the hall unaffected by reviews and trailer, I was rather hopeful. Only because the director’s name on the movie poster whose previous work includes Argo and The Town. But it all seemed like a gangster film which Disney would have made.
Picture this: A young, charismatic Boston breed having an existential crisis after his stint in World War I, sworn never to kill a person ever again. Instead, he turns to petty stick-up jobs to earn enough to run away with love of his life that happens to be a girlfriend of the villain. Then the villain takes her away, and our prince charming sets out to picturesque Florida to take revenge and earn some money on the side by setting up the bootlegged Rum business joining the villain’s rival.
And in the midst of all vices, murder, alcohol, bloodshed, corruption and Ku Klux Klan; he found his true love for a second time with a second woman. It is very hard to make out what can you like in this film. I mean it does have some beautiful moments. But those moments soon fizzled out right after the scene changes.
Live by Night had all the substance and elements to be a great period crime drama as it was set against a fascinating backdrop of ‘Prohibition Era in America’ when there was a constitutional ban on alcohol. But it failed outstandingly to connect those missing dots to form a continuity between the plot and sub-plots.
Looking at the film, you get the idea Affleck had a lot of money to make this and an amazing star cast with likes of Himself, Brendan Gleeson, Chris Coleman, Zoe Saldana and Elle Fanning among others but it seems like he ran out of time and ideas on how to tell a story. In the end, it was all ‘paper over the cracks.’
Mike Ryan of Uproxx correctly stated, “It feels like a rushed project that Affleck had to get out of the way before he plays Batman again.” Thus, explaining this rather rushed review which only seemed fair.