Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

Ben Affleck has found much derision in his life as an actor. I will admit I haven’t seen ‘Gigli’ and I didn’t think ‘Daredevil’ was nearly as bad as everyone made it out to be, and I also thought he gave an award worthy performance as George Reeves in ‘Hollywood Land’, but considering my opinion is worth absolutely nothing helps Ben Affleck very little in gaining the respect as an actor that he may or may not desire. The film ‘Gone Baby Gone’ represents the directorial debut of Ben Affleck and if this first outing is any indication of the future, the director’s chair will hold a lot more accolades for Mr. Affleck than his lucrative acting career has delivered.

Based on a series of novels by author Dennis Lehane, ‘Gone baby Gone’ is set in a working class neighborhood of Boston where the police and the press have gathered to hopefully find recently missing four-year-old Amanda McCready (Madeline O’Brien) who was snatched from her bed late the night before. Amanda’s uncle Lionel (Titus Welliver) and aunt Beatrice (Amy Madigan) are concerned that the police can’t properly work the neighborhood since the locals have little trust of the authorities so they hire local private investigators Patrick Kenzie (Casey Affleck) and Angie Genaro (Michelle Monaghan) to work the neighborhood from the inside.

Police Captain Jack Doyle (Morgan Freeman) is none to pleased with seeing this fresh pair of P.I.’s on the case but as required by law he assigns a couple of his officers he has working the case in Remy Bressant (Ed Harris) and Nick Poole (John Ashton) to team up with the pair and share information. Surprisingly the officers and the Private Eye’s are able to make some real headway and actually come close to finding the little girl, but their plans go straight to hell resulting in tragedy. Ah but it doesn’t end there as

our townie gumshoe just has the sense that something is just not right with anything that has been going on to this point and he’s going to get to the bottom of it. Even it costs him his life.

First thing I need to say about ‘Gone Baby Gone’ is that actress Amy Ryan who plays Helene McCready, the missing girl’s drug addicted mother, CLOSES THE DOOR on the role of a white trash skank. I’m serious. If there’s and acting class on how to properly portray a white trash skank, Amy Ryan in ‘Gone Baby Gone’ should be required study. Skanktified skankilicioius! Another thing I have to say about this film, one that I really enjoyed, is that Director Ben Affleck probably should have yelled at little brother Casey Affleck TO SPEAK MORE CLEARLY! I’m all about nepotism and if I had some way to give MY brother a job, I would. For real. ‘Cause he needs one. But there were numerous times during the film where Casey Affleck was mumbling some line or another and I couldn’t for the life of me make out what he was saying.

But even though sometimes I couldn’t understand what the HELL Casey Affleck was saying, I really enjoyed listening to the dialog in this film. It was tough, crisp, quick and most importantly it came off as authentic and natural. I was curious how the younger Affleck was going to pull off the task of being a tough talking urban P.I., considering he looks like a famished high school sophomore, but he handles the role surprisingly well and the script does take into account his youthful appearance and the fact that he is a little ‘light in the ass’. There were fine performances all around in this film with Ed Harris bringing his usual intensity to the role of the tough neighborhood cop and John Ashton, who most of us know as the older cop in the ‘Beverly Hills Cop’ movies playing basically the same role, but amazingly looks EXACTLY the same as he did when that movie came out some twenty plus years ago. I guess some of us can only get so old.

Though I hear the film stays relatively faithful to a book I haven’t read, the story seems to careen a bit out of control as we near the finish line but if it’s keeping in line with the source narrative we can’t complain about that too much. But the true star of this film is its director Ben Affleck who has directed the kind of film that I enjoy seeing. Low on melodrama, gritty, he keeps the pace moving, he frames his scenes perfectly, handles his veteran cast of actors very well and other than not wanting to piss his little brother off and make him speak clearly he hits most of the right notes behind the camera.

‘Gone Baby Gone’ is a very tough, difficult film and it asks the viewer to focus on some very hard decisions that needed to be made near the end. I hope this is the genre that Affleck sticks with because it looks like he has a real flair for it.

Real Time Web