Blu-ray Review: LIVE BY NIGHT

LIVE BY NIGHT was written and directed by Ben Affleck who also stars in the film alongside Elle Fanning, Brendan Gleeson, Chris Messina, Sienna Miller, Zoe Saldana and Chris Cooper.

What you put out into this world will always come back to you, but it never comes back how you predict. Taking fatherly advice is not in Joe Coughlin’s nature. Instead, the WWI vet is a self-proclaimed anti-establishment outlaw, despite being the son of the Boston Police Deputy Superintendent. Joe’s not all bad, though; in fact, he’s not really bad enough for the life he’s chosen. Unlike the gangsters he refuses to work for, he has a sense of justice and an open heart, and both work against him, leaving him vulnerable time and again—in business and in love.  Driven by a need to right the wrongs committed against him and those close to him, Joe heads down a risky path that goes against his upbringing and his own moral code. Leaving the cold Boston winter behind, he and his reckless crew turn up the heat in Tampa. And while revenge may taste sweeter than the molasses that infuses every drop of illegal rum he runs, Joe will learn that it comes at a price.

This gritty crime drama takes place in the roaring 20’s during the height of Prohibition. The movie centers around Joe Coughlin (Ben Affleck), a small-time gangster from Boston who makes his way to Miami as his business grows. He’s a bighearted bootlegger who crosses paths with a few mob bosses during his run and things go south for him with each meeting. The greedy mob bosses always want a piece of his hard earned money and Joe’s answer is always to fight back. The thing about Joe is that he’s stubborn and continues to try and live his dream and grow his small empire while he fights against his power hungry enemies. While all of this is going on he also finds the time to fall in love and this also doesn’t set well for some of the locals. Discrimination and bigotry is definitely alive and well during this time. In the end, Joe simply wants to be happy and live a normal life but he finds out that his past always catches up to him.

There’s some good and bad about Live by Night. The bad parts are the sad fact that I couldn’t really get interested in these characters and the fact that the movie was a slow burn didn’t help at all. I did like the grittiness and violence that this dangerous decade possessed. If you crossed someone, you was going to pay a terrible price for it. I also like the fact that Ben Affleck wasn’t afraid to not only tackle a gangster story like this but he also directed it, wrote the screenplay, and starred in it. That’s really impressive even though the movie fell kind of flat. I guess the biggest standout to me was the impressive cinematography because the movie really was beautifully shot. I also liked the appearance of the movie because it all looked like it was taking place in the 20’s. The vintage look was spot on and really impressive.

The front of the packaging features the artwork you see up top and the back includes movie details, some images and list of special features. The Blu-ray disc has a flat black finish with no artwork. Inserting the disc, the menu screen was simple and easy to navigate. The picture and sound quality for this high-definition release were crisp and clear. I didn’t have any issues with the video and audio.

Bottom line is, Live by Night was an okay watch but it was no gangster epic like it had been billed as. Ben Affleck has already proven that he is a great director but sadly his latest effort has fallen DOA – dead on arrival. I think Affleck may have gotten fascinated with the Prohibition era so he wanted to tell a character driven story that took place during this heated time of bootlegging, discrimination and violence. I guess what lost it for me is the fact that I couldn’t really get into these characters and care for them like I wanted to. That’s sad because the movie has a fantastic cast. Live by Night was also an extreme slow burn and that didn’t help any. Still, we don’t get too many of these gangster movies these days and that’s what drew my interest to it in the first place. It’s not a bad movie so it really lands right on the mediocre level at best. Live by Night releases on Blu-ray on March 21st. Rent it before you buy it.

Distributor: Warner Bros. Home Entertainment

Run Time: 129 Minutes

Rated: R

Blu-ray Video: 1080p High-Definition 16×9 Widescreen (2.40:1)

Blu-ray Audio: English Dolby Atmos and DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 / French and Spanish DD 5.1

Subtitles: English SDH, French and Spanish

Special Features: Good Stuff! The Blu-ray extras include four behind-the-scenes featurettes, some deleted scenes, audio commentary and a digital copy of the film.

  • Angels with Dirty Faces: The Women of Live By Night (08:54)
  • The Men of Live By Night (08:30)
  • Live By Night’s Prolific Author (06:53)
  • In Close Up: Creating a Classic Car Chase (07:35)
  • Deleted Scenes (15:56)
  • Deleted Scenes Commentary (15:56)
  • Director’s Commentary
  • Digital HD Copy


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