Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Movie Review: Live By Night

Ben Affleck's passion project sponsored by Warner Bros. thanks to his performance as Batman was to adapt Dennis Lehane's novel of the same title. Though abridged, the story is rather faithful to the book, which I read about two years ago. It begins with World War I veteran turned outlaw Joe Couglin (Affleck) beat up in a bed. The beginning recounts Joe's attempts to stay out of the war between the Irish mob and the Italian mob and his affection for Emma Gould (Sienna Miller), who happens to also be the girlfriend of the Irish mob boss Albert White (Robert Glenister). 

Double-crossed and imprisoned, Joe has to make a deal with the Italian mob to strike back at White in his new spot down in Tampa Bay once his shortened sentence, thanks to his father Thomas (Brendan Gleeson), ends. Joe teams up with Dion Bartolo (Chris Messina) and takes over Ybor. He meets the lovely Graciela (Zoe Saldana) and goes into business with her and her brother Esteban (Miguel). They run into trouble with the local police chief Figgis (Chris Cooper).

Taking over Tampa isn't easy as Joe faces opposition from the Chief's brother-in-law, a KKK member, RD Pruitt (Matthew Maher) and the Chief's daughter, a converted religious zealot, Loretta (Elle Fanning). Somehow Joe manages to survive though his casino plans do not. He gains some success but has enough failures to anger the Italians and things go crazy from there.

The movie has some decent action scenes of period piece shootouts and old car chases. Affleck switches around on his accent and his performance isn't as great as some of his others. The movie isn't so terrible but I would recommend going in with low expectations. The novel had a lot of stuff packed into it and went for an epic story despite making it a quick read. Lehane has better stories to read as well.

The set pieces looked good and all the costumes were fun to watch. Some talents like Fanning, Cooper, and Gleason help along the story from some of the other performances. It moves at a brisk enough pace never to feel too boring or slow. All around, I felt this was a decent movie to see but more of a rental than something to see at the theater, which seems to be the audience's opinion with a weak box office wide release opening. 

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