Friday, January 20, 2017

Movie Review: Live By Night

Ben Affleck's latest triple threat effort as writer, producer and director of "Live By Night" is unfortunately no "Argo"  but it was still an enjoyable gangster-historical film with a lot to offer. 

Set in Boston in the roaring 20's, during the Prohibition era, a budding bandit, Joe Coughlin (Ben Affleck), - as a small town robber, gets on the wrong side of the head of the Irish mob, Albert White (Robert Glenister) when he falls in love with Siena Miller's-Emma Gould (who was absolutely gorgeous in  those '20's costumes and headpieces) -Albert wasn't so happy about their relationship, since Emma is supposed to be with him. 

After surviving a near-death beating when a bank heist goes wrong (the aftermath of an intense Model T car chase, I know, who would have thought right?) Joe stayed for a short stint in prison, thanks to the intervention of his father, who was the Boston Police Deputy Superintendent (yes I know its complicated and it makes for more drama). 

Joe swears to get back at Albert and is given the opportunity when he allies himself with the Italian mob, headed by Don Maso Pescatore. 

Joe is sent to Tampa, Florida to manage the illegal rum production and distribution and to make sure that Pescatore's business flourishes and because Albert White is Pescatore's rival, all he has to do it to make sure is business is good and Albert is sure to hurt. So, Joe sets out to warm sands and beautiful beaches of Tampa Florida, a welcome change to most mobster films, which are usually set in Boston, New York, or Chicago. 

What follows are different challenges in how Joe manages the business, by first gaining himself some new allies, in the form of Graciela (Zoe Saldana) and her brother who are Cubans living in Ybor Florida, they control the supply of molasses, which is integral to the production of rum. Ybor is a multi-ethnic, multi-racial community of hardworking immigrants, which is why a little social commentary on the racial hierarchy, care of Joe's trusted comrade, Dion Bartolo (Chris Messina) was rather hilarious. 

Joe becomes friendly with the local law enforcement in the form of Chief Figgis, played by Chris Cooper, at their first meeting Joe meets Figgis' daughter, Loretta, played by Ellie Fanning, whose fate, in a strange way becomes intertwined with Joe. 

Now, its not easy running a mobster's affairs, Joe meets different challenges while in Tampa, such as the KKK, religion, all the while, trying to get a casino built. 

Joe has been running away from the mob, only to run full in its embrace, especially when ghosts from his past start coming back. 

Aside from all these happening (yes, there is a lot) we still have all out guns-a-blazing (gun) fight and chess moves that will keep you in shock. I enjoyed "Live By Night" I guess, mostly because I'm a fan of history and mobster movies. There is a lot of dialogue, in think heavy accents (Irish, Boston etc) which may be a bit overwhelming, especially if you don't have the ear for it, or you know, you're not used to it. There are some conversations that could be a bit boring. 

7/10 Despite the richness in the story, maybe it was too rich, there is a lot of things happening, that its hard to pull everything in. Nevertheless it is still a movie with a lot to offer. There are bits of little gems that you will enjoy here and there. 

"Live By Night" is now showing in cinemas. 

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