Live By Night Review – Not nearly as bad as critics made it out to be

Genre: , ,
Age Restriction:
Studio: Warner Bros. Pictures
Running Time: 129 mins

Verdict: 3 / 5

Verdict: 3 / 5
Live By Night isn't an Oscar-worthy film. It's a decent one. And, quite frankly, that should be enough.

Ben Affleck writes, produces, directs and stars in his fourth film, Live By Night, an adaptation of Dennis Lehane’s sprawling crime novel. While it may have some of the same virtues of his previous films which received high praise, his follow-up to the Oscar-winning Argo has been met with harsh criticism, lukewarm reviews and a low Rotten Tomatoes rating. Is it justified? Not really. It might not be a great film, but it’s certainly not a bad one.

Live By Night Review

Ever since Ben Affleck joined the DCEU, he has been under immense scrutiny. Every performance and every move he makes is put under a microscope. The Accountant, for example, was a film that suffered from this over-critical analysing. Despite all its pros, audiences and critics chose to focus on a handful of its cons. Now that same plague has befallen Live By Night, a film that would be considered decent enough for the big screen being dubbed a failure. It’s a curse that Affleck is completely aware of and is trying his best to sidestep by stepping down as the director of Batman.

In Live By Night, Affleck tries his hand at a period piece and stars as Joe Coughlin, a war veteran and prodigal son of a police captain (Brendan Gleeson) turned bootlegger in the 1920s. Trouble brews when he falls in love with the mistress of a notorious gangster. After being double-crossed and left for dead, he relocates to a new town where he flourishes in the world of organised crime. Soon he is seduced by money, power, greed and corruption.


While there isn’t much to separate Live By Night from other films in the genre, Affleck approaches the material with confidence and playfulness. Despite its adult themes and the stunning backdrops, it’s never overly serious and is often quite witty. However, it’s not a perfect film. Even though the performances are first class (Elle Fanning, Zoe Saldana and Chris Cooper deserve applause), there are often too many characters and the frustrated plot often feels too loose. Even when the cinematography is amazing, we never quite feel like we’re part of the setting. That said, Affleck manages to juggle a very difficult story and a complicated character to deliver a throwback to classic gangster films.

Live By Night isn’t an Oscar-worthy film. It’s a decent one. And, quite frankly, that should be enough.

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Comments 3

  1. I think the stress of this movie performing poorly added on to Ben’s decision of not directing batman. The risk is too great with such a character and also living up to nolans trilogy is mission

  2. Kevin Rule says:

    Obviously it’s not!! Disney is trying to break ben, zack and all the great people attached to warner brothers

  3. I saw it on wednesday and I think this is on par with The Town. The great cast, the writing, the camera work is all top notch. The sound wasn’t that great, but I think that was more Nu Metro’s cinema 5 than the movie.

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