Mar 212017
 

Live by Night was Ben Affleck’s passion project that, ironically, lacked a whole lot of passion on screen mixed in with a hodgepodge of a plot, far too many side characters and performances that didn’t quite connect on screen despite the talent assembled.

 

 

Live by Night
(2016)

Genre(s): Crime, Drama
Warner Bros. | R – 129 min. – $29.98 | March 21, 2017

Date Published: 03/21/2017 | Author: The Movieman

 


MOVIE INFO:
Directed by:
Ben Affleck
Writer(s): Dennis Lehane (novel); Ben Affleck (screenplay)
Cast: Ben Affleck, Elle Fanning, Brendan Gleeson, Chris Messina, Sienna Miller, Zoe Saldana, Chris Cooper, Robert Glenister, Titus Welliver, Clark Gregg, Anthony Michael Hall
DISC INFO:
Features:
Commentary, Featurettes, Deleted Scenes
Digital Copy: Yes
Formats Included: Blu-ray
Number of Discs: 1
Audio: English (Dolby Atmos), English (DTS-HD MA 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1)
Video: 1080p/Widescreen 2.40
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Disc Size: 40.4 GB
Codec: MPEG-4 AVC
Region(s): A, B, C

 


THE MOVIE — 1.5/5


Note: This review contains PLOT SPOILERS. Readers beware.

Not many, if any, have a perfect track record and in the last decade or so, I can only think of one where I enjoyed all of his films (Christopher Nolan). Ben Affleck dating back to 2007’s Gone Baby Gone has proven himself to be a damn good filmmaker, perhaps better behind the camera than in front of. So even with the horrible reviews (both critics and audiences) and awful box office (where Variety reports the studio will lose $75 million), I had some high hopes for Live by Night as I’m partial to movies that take place in ‘20s and ‘30s. Sadly, even with some checked expectations, this truly was Affleck’s first in just about every faction as an actor, writer, producer and director.

Joe Coughlin (BEN AFFLECK) is a self-proclaimed anti-establishment outlaw, who is having an affair with Emma Gould (SIENNA MILLER), the girlfriend of crime boss Albert White (ROBERT GLENISTER); it’s a dangerous relationship that is soon discovered and Coughlin receives a nasty beating. Following an armed bank robbery that goes wrong, resulting in the three dead police officers, his sergeant of a father (BRENDAN GLEESON), blackmails the District Attorney for a short 3 year sentence. Coughlin also finds out that Emma was killed when her car crashed into the water and while in prison, his dad dies.

With no emotional connection and wanting vengeance on White, Coughlin, despite not wanting to be gangster approaches Italian mobster Maso Pescatore (REMO GIRONE) who offers him a job in Tampa where he is to manage the illegal rum business; and at the same time, exact revenge upon White who has set up shop down there. And soon enough, after making local connections including a corrupt but incorruptible sheriff (CHRIS COOPER) as well as a Cuban distributor (MIGUEL) and his smoking hot sister, Graciela (ZOE SALDANA), whom he quickly falls in love with.

Coughlin’s Tampa days are going well and he intends on expanding the business by opening up a casino resort but when the sheriff’s daughter, Loretta (ELLE FANNING), finds religion following her time in Hollywood where she got hooked on heroine, and she begins an uprising against booze and gambling. Oh, and if that’s not enough subplots for you, added into the mix are the KKK and one of their members (MATTHEW MAHER), who just so happens to be the sheriff’s brother-in-law who wants to run Coughlin out of town.

I think you can see one of the problems right away: it’s an overstuffed movie with multiple characters coming in and out for a plot that can’t seem to focus on one thread. Also doesn’t help despite this respectable supporting cast, none of them really have much to work with and their characters poorly fleshed out especially considering each only gets a few minutes of screen time (for instance, Brendan Gleeson is out of the picture in the first act).

Beyond the fact there are too many characters and storylines, Live by Night is further hampered by one cliché after another and in some instances — such as when Coughlin is in the hospital and outside his guys is guarding from enemies intent on killing him — reminds you of far better crime-dramas.

Although I did find the production and costume designs to be top notch, which very well might be the only redeeming value, it’s a wonder that despite the fact this was a passion project for Ben Affleck that it really lack any genuine passion, it’s not even any good as a love letter to that era. The problem is, I suspect, that Affleck was wearing too many hats (both behind and on-screen for that matter) and probably should’ve put his focus on one area, like directing, and have others handle adapting the Dennis Lehane novel and tackling a smaller part.

In the end, Live by Night might be a misfire entry in Affleck’s career but hopefully he can rebound in the future as his previous three films showed his talent behind the camera.

 

SPECIAL FEATURES – 3.0/5


This release comes with a redemption code for the Digital HD copy.

Audio Commentary – Actor/Screenwriter/Producer/Director Ben Affleck, Director of Photography Robert Richardson and Production Designer Jess Gonchor as they offer their insights into the film. This isn’t the greatest track as it can be a tad dry, but Affleck does stay on point.

Angels with Dirty Faces: The Women of Live by Night (8:54; HD) profiles actresses Sienna Miller, Zoe Saldana and Elle Fanning and their respective characters.

Good Guys and Bad Guys: The Men of Live by Night (8:30; HD) introduces us the various male characters from Affleck to Messina to Cooper and in between.

Live by Night’s Prolific Author (6:53; HD) looks at Dennis Lehane and the novel the film was based off of.

In Close Up: Creating a Classic Car Chase (7:35; HD) is a featurette showcasing how the chase sequence was filmed.

Lastly we get a set of Deleted Scenes (15:56; HD) that have a few more character moments, but nothing important nor anything that would’ve improved the theatrical cut. An optional commentary from Affleck is also available.

PreviewKong: Skull Island

 


VIDEO – 4.5/5


Warner Home Video releases Live by Night onto Blu-ray presented in its original theatrical 2.40 widescreen aspect ratio and a 1080p high-definition transfer. The video mostly looks good and there is a wide range of colors where, like the restaurant scene, absolutely lacks any color and have a gold hue while others have natural looking skin tones. Other than that, the picture is smooth with no obvious signs of artifacts, aliasing or banding but also lacked grain so I wonder if this was shot digitally.

AUDIO – 4.25/5


In what I think is unique for Warner releases, this one comes with both Dolby Atmos and DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 tracks (have to wonder why Fox can’t do the same) with the default being the DTS-HD option so be sure to make the switch beforehand (or using the pop-up menu while the movie plays). The Atmos track is certainly good where it especially comes to life during the action-centric scenes like the car chase and third act shoot-out. On the quieter side, dialogue levels do sound crisp and clear. It’s not what I would describe as fantastic or anything but more than serviceable.

 


OVERALL – 2.5/5


Overall, Live by Night was Ben Affleck’s passion project that, ironically, lacked a whole lot of passion on screen mixed in with a hodgepodge of a plot, far too many side characters and performances that didn’t quite connect on screen despite the talent assembled. The Blu-ray released by Warner Brothers offers up good video/audio transfers and a decent selection of bonus material.

 

 

 

 

Check out some more screen caps by going to page 2. Please note, these do contain spoilers.

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