Live BY Night Reviewed
Live By Night is an adaptation of a Dennis Lehane novel by the same name, which is part of a trilogy following a single family. Lehane is also the author of the novels Shutter Island, Gone Baby Gone, and Mystic River, so you can see the temptation in taking on this series, too. The movie begins with Joe Coughlin (Ben Affleck) as an Irish gangster in Boston during the prohibition era. Coughlin gets into some trouble with the Irish mob so he decides to join their biggest rival: the Italians. He’s sent to run the Italian's’ operation, specifically the manufacturing and distribution of rum, in Florida. With everyone needing their booze, he is able to create a bit of an empire despite several organizations trying their best to stop him.
Live By Night has a million subplots –it’s a mob story, a rags-to-riches story, a revenge story, and a love story. Coughlin has run-ins with rival mob groups, the Klan, and even organized religion. Affleck must have really liked these books, so much so that he probably refused to cut anything out. However, because there is so much happening he has no time to give depth to any of the numerous storylines. Every problem is solved via murder and the movie moves along to the next problem so he can shoot that, too.
All that said, Live By Night isn’t a bad movie. It feels a lot like The Town, a Boston gangster who tries to live by a certain code of ethics; it was just executed differently. Live By Night is more of a popcorn flick—gangsters, guns, flappers, booze, women! And even when he tries to insert some messages about loving the people around you and hard work, it is all done in broad strokes. Nothing you need to think too hard about.
Live By Night is a pretty dumb movie, and maybe even a dumb movie that doesn’t realize how dumb it is, but it’s still fun to watch, and by no means is it ever boring. There’s no need to rush out and see this—you’ve seen movies like this before—but if you liked Argo or The Town you could do a lot worse, like watching Bat-fleck fight Superman. C/C-