*Originally written January 13th, 2017*
"Dead by Dawn"
As an actor, Ben Affleck has made a lot of shit, that's just a fact, but where he truly shines is in his directing. Gone Baby Gone is great, The Town was even better and Argo even won best picture at the Oscars, but sadly Affleck has finally not only a disappointing film, but a straight-up bad one at that.
This prohibition gangster drama feels like 3 seasons of Boardwalk Empire crammed into one 2 hour film, it just doesn't work. There's just too much going on, which results in a frustrating mess of a film. It starts of well enough, giving us a fairly simple, but involving story. The first act sets up a story that is more or less ignored until the final few scenes. This wouldn't be a problem if the story we get wasn't so meandering and boring.
I was expecting some sort of fairly simple revenge film. It's not. Instead we spend 2 thirds of the film dealing with a variety of underdeveloped subplots. It feels sorta like they made a film out the Mafia video game series, but instead focused the story on a bunch of uninteresting side missions before resolving the main plot out of nowhere.
This takes place in a very misogynist time, but there is no reason for the female characters to be this outrageously underwritten. The two love interests are nothing, a complete waste of Sienna Miller and Zoe Saldana (Who I can't even remember if she had lines or not). Then we had Elle Fanning, who gives a decent performance with what she was given, but her character really fails to leave much of an impact.
If I have positives to say. I will admit the production design is really beautiful and the film is well shot and cinematic. Some of the action scenes are great and have some fairly graphic kills and visual flare. As an actor, Affleck is at least decent in his role. It's just a shame his character is so uninteresting and uncompelling as a lead. Which is Affleck's fault as a director and not an actor.
The pacing is also very poor. Despite being crammed with about 3 different films worth of material, you would think there would be enough happening for it be somewhat fast-paced. It is instead a complete slog. This honestly felt at least 3 hours long.
Live by Night is Ben Affleck's first truly bad film as a director. A crammed mess that wastes the potential of its setting and time period.
Live by Night is out now on Blu-ray and DVD in the UK
Watch the trailer below:
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