"Bad People in a Bad Movie"
Based on the novel by acclaimed crime novelist Dennis Lehane, LIVE BY NIGHT features Ben Affleck’s return to writing, directing and acting in his first underwhelming movie helmed primarily by him.
Set in the 1920s and 1930s during Prohibition, the movie stars Affleck as Joe Coughlin, a war vet who takes to bank robbing in Boston, even though his own father is a legendary police captain. In a city with warring gangs between the Italians and the Irish, Joe is doing everything he can to avoid getting involved with the gangs. Except there’s one problem: he’s fallen in love with a beautiful Irish woman, who happens to be the mistress of the Irish mob boss.
Joe tries to convince the mobster’s mistress to run away with him, but she betrays him. Joe is beat badly before being picked up by the police, who were looking for him due to a bank robbery gone wrong. Joe’s father does everything he can to reduce Joe’s sentence. A few years later, Joe is released, but not soon enough to see his father, who passed away.
Bent on hitting back at the Irish mob, Joe decides to work with the Italians by becoming a bootlegger in Ybor City, an historic immigrant neighborhood in Tampa, Florida. In Florida, Joe builds a strong business for the Italian mob, but as Prohibition nears its end, Joe has to think beyond bootlegging. So, he sets his sights on building a casino that will flourish as soon as Joe gets gambling to be legal in Florida.
However, the local police chief’s young daughter, who ventured to Hollywood to become a star but instead fell into pornography and hard drugs, but was rescued, becomes a prophetess-like preacher. She speaks against gambling and all other types of immorality. Her preaching puts Joe’s casino in jeopardy. Meanwhile, Joe falls for a beautiful Cuban woman, which makes him and his business a target of the Klu Klux Klan. Can Joe save the business or will the violent lifestyle he was trying to avoid destroy him?
LIVE BY NIGHT is a potentially interesting story squandered by Ben Affleck mistakenly casting himself as the lead. A director, who excels at telling plot driven stories with strong pacing, Affleck isn’t able to hold together a character-centric story, especially in the second act, which slows down considerably. The action sequences at the beginning and end are exciting however, and the 1920s sets are fantastic. The movie also suffers from a prolonged ending.
The worldview is mixed, with an anti-Christian representation of the young preacher girl and pretty much all Christians as fanatics or white supremacists. At one point, however, the young girl says that she doesn’t know if there’s a God, but she hopes there is, and she hopes she’s kind. There’s also a statement that Earth is heaven, yet we’ve turned it into hell. Ultimately, the violence catches up to the main character, even though he’s left the mob life behind, and he pays a price for his crimes. The ending is sentimental and ultimately says people need to make the best of their life here on earth.
LIVE BY NIGHT has excessive foul language, violence and strong sexual content. This, coupled with the abhorrent worldview, makes LIVE BY NIGHT unacceptable.
(PaPaPa, AbAbAb, B, C, Ho, LLL, VVV, SS, Ho, NN, AA, DD, MM) Very strong pagan worldview of immorality, moral relativism, gangster’s following virtually no moral code, with very strong Anti-Christian, anti-biblical statements, including Christians portrayed as fanatics or racists, some light moral elements in that the violent lifestyle ultimately has consequences, implying that we should make the best of our time on earth, and a character, who’s supposed to be a Christian, says she doesn’t know if there’s a God, but she hopes there is, and she hopes He’s kind, plus man blackmails an official regarding a homosexual relationship; more than 64 obscenities (including at least 44 “f” words) and four strong profanities; very strong violence, man is thrown off a building, many people are shot, man is beat and kicked so hard he vomits, man’s throat is slit, man throws a pipe bomb into a full club, a car chase ends with a car accident and police officers dead; moderate sexual content include two brief shots of man having sex with his girlfriend, another more prolonged sex scene shows more skin but no graphic nudity, and discussion about fornication and bestiality; a brief picture of young girl involved in graphic pornography is shown with upper female nudity, women show some cleavage, upper male nudity; moderate drinking, with most of the plot revolving around bootlegging; smoking, with discussion of heroin addiction; and, strong moral relativism, racism, revenge, and stealing.
LIVE BY NIGHT features Ben Affleck’s return to writing, directing and acting in his underwhelming movie helmed primarily by him. Set in the 1920s and 1930s during Prohibition, the movie follows Joe Coughlin, a veteran who turns to bank robbery. Joe starts working for the Italian mob to get back at the Irish mob for killing his girlfriend and sending him to prison.
LIVE BY NIGHT is a potentially interesting story that’s squandered by Ben Affleck mistakenly casting himself as the lead. A director that excels at telling plot driven stories with strong pacing, Affleck isn’t able to hold together a character-centric story. This is especially true in the second act, which slows down. The movie’s worldview is mixed, with an Anti-Christian bent where pretty much all the Christians are portrayed as fanatics or white supremacists. There’s also a statement that Earth is heaven, but we’ve turned it into hell. That said, the violence catches up to the main character. LIVE BY NIGHT has excessive foul language, violence and graphic lewd content. This, coupled with the abhorrent worldview, makes LIVE BY NIGHT unacceptable.