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Ben Affleck
Ben Affleck, Elle Fanning, Brendan Gleeson, Zoe Saldana
Writing Credits:
Ben Affleck

A group of Boston-bred gangsters set up shop in balmy Florida during the Prohibition era, facing off against the competition and the Ku Klux Klan.

Box Office:
$65 million.
Opening Weekend
$5,106,046 on 2822 Screens.
Domestic Gross

Rated R

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
English Dolby Atmos
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
French Dolby 5.1
Latin Spanish Dolby 5.1
Portuguese Dolby 5.1
English Descriptive Audio
Latin Spanish
Supplements Subtitles:
Latin Spanish

Runtime: 129 min.
Price: $29.98
Release Date: 3/21/2017

• Audio Commentary with Writer/Actor/Director Ben Affleck, Director of Photography Robert Richardson and Production Designer Jess Gonchor
• “Angels With Dirty Faces” Featurette
• “The Men of Live By Night” Featurette
• “Live By Night’s Prolific Author” Featurette
• “Creating a Classic Car Chase” Featurette
• Deleted Scenes
• Preview


Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


Live By Night [Blu-Ray] (2017)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (March 19, 2017)

As a director, Ben Affleck enjoyed great critical success for his first three films. 2007’s Gone Baby Gone, 2010’s The Town and 2012’s Argo all earned Rotten Tomato ratings in the 90s, and Argo snared the coveted Oscar for Best Picture.

Alas, 2017’s Live By Night broke this streak, as it bombed in all ways. Critics panned it and audiences avoided it, which meant it staggered to a shockingly low $10 million take in the US.

Despite all these foreboding factors, I liked Affleck’s first three directorial efforts and extended enough benefit of the doubt to plop Night in my player. Set in 1926, Joe Coughlin (Affleck) becomes a criminal attached to the Boston underworld even though he grew up as the son of prominent police captain Thomas Coughlin (Brendan Gleeson).

Joe falls in love with Emma Gould (Sienna Miller), the mistress of powerful crime boss Albert White (Robert Glenister). Joe tries to convince Emma to run away with him, and he participates in a robbery to raise funds for this endeavor. However, this job goes bad and lands Joe in jail.

Thomas pulls some strings to abbreviate Joe’s sentence, but the younger Coughlin continues his criminal ways when he exits prison. This time, though, Joe acts to right wrongs, a pursuit that leads him to take charge of mob activities in Florida. Here he deals with competition from the KKK and other challenges.

Given that Affleck wrote, directed and starred in Night, it’d be easy to view it as a vanity project and dismiss its failure as an ego-diluted overreach. However, Affleck also took on those three roles for the much better received Town, so this assessment doesn’t seem logical.

Besides, with Night, Affleck adapts a novel by Dennis Lehane, the author of the sources for Gone Baby Gone, Mystic River and others. It’s not like this was a project that solely existed for the glorification of all things Ben.

Which is good, because the plodding, spiritless Night doesn’t glorify anyone involved. While it contains the bones of an interesting movie, the end result seems slow and without great purpose.

Night feels like it heavily condenses the source, and that makes Affleck’s choice to delay Joe’s move to Florida a bad one. I feel like the first act should be a fairly brief prologue, but the opening drags past half an hour and doesn’t use that cinematic real estate well. The intro could run much shorter and work better in the “less is more” vein, as the viewer becomes impatient to see the story progress.

Once the story does get to the Sunshine State, matters don’t really improve, partly Joe never turns into a very interesting character. Given his history and internal conflicts, Joe should offer a fascinating personality, but as played by Affleck, he remains a thuggish stiff without much to make the audience care for him.

The same goes for the rest of the film, as Night never gets off the ground. The Florida setting and the use of the KKK add some intrigue but this still feels like a standard issue gangster movie, one without much creativity or reason to exist.

We do get occasional thrills via some action – ie, a car chase and gunfights – but the dramatic scenes seem flat and bland. Live By Night can’t deliver an involving drama.

The Blu-ray Grades: Picture A-/ Audio B+/ Bonus B-

Live By Night appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This was a positive presentation.

Sharpness looked fine. Virtually no softness materialized, so the movie showed solid clarity and accuracy. No signs of jagged edges or moiré effects appeared, and I witnessed no edge haloes. Print flaws also failed to mar the image.

Like many modern action flicks, Night went with a teal and orange tint. Actually, given the period setting, the orange leaned a little sepia, but the stylized hues still dominated. Within their parameters, the hues looked fine; I wish the teal/orange trend would end, but I still thought the Blu-ray replicated them as desired.

Blacks were deep and dense, without any muddiness. Shadows were also smooth and clear. Overall, I found this to be a satisfying transfer.

In addition, the film’s Dolby Atmos soundtrack added real punch to the proceedings. Downconverted to Dolby TrueHD 7.1, the soundfield frequently used all the channels to good advantage, as the mix featured a wide and involving soundstage.

Music demonstrated excellent stereo delineation, and the effects popped up all over the spectrum. Those elements showed nice localization and melded together smoothly.

The surrounds played an active role and added quite a lot to the mix. Given the nature of the film’s action, the soundtrack gave us nice opportunities for involvement, and it never disappointed me. This was a vivid and engrossing mix.

Happily, the audio quality lived up expectations as well. Speech consistently came across as warm and natural, and I noticed no signs of edginess or issues with intelligibility. The music stayed loud and dynamic, as the track replicated the score with nice clarity and definition.

Unsurprisingly, the effects packed a wallop. They were vibrant and accurate, with clear highs and booming bass. Low-end was always tight and firm; the track exhibited genuinely terrific bass response. This became a high quality track.

As we shift to extras, we find an audio commentary from writer/actor/director Ben Affleck, director of photography Bob Richardson and production designer Jess Gonchor. All three sit together for a running, screen-specific look at the source novel and its adaptation, story and characters, cast and performances, sets and locations, cinematography and period details, music and connected topics.

Affleck usually delivers good commentaries, but this discussion of Night tends to be a snoozer. While Affleck, Richardson and Gonchor offer a smattering of useful notes, they tend to praise the movie too much of the time, and plenty of dead air comes along for the ride. This winds up as a spotty, disappointing track.

Four featurettes follow. Angels With Dirty Faces lasts eight minutes, 54 seconds and includes notes from Affleck, author Dennis Lehane, and actors Sienna Miller, Zoe Saldana, and Elle Fanning. This one looks at cast, characters and performances. A few decent notes emerge but this seems like a lackluster piece.

Next comes The Men of Live By Night, an eight-minute, 30-second reel with Affleck and actors Chris Cooper, Remo Girone, Chris Messina, Brendan Gleeson, and Robert Glenister. This one acts as a masculine counterpart to “Faces”, which means it examines male cast, characters and performances. Like its predecessor, it’s mediocre.

Live By Night’s Prolific Author goes for six minutes, 53 seconds and provides remarks from Lehane, Affleck, Messina, and producers Jennifer Todd and Jennifer Davisson. We learn about aspects of Lehane’s career and work, with some emphasis on Night. This becomes a reasonable overview of the author’s material.

Finally, we see In Close Up: Creating a Classic Car Chase. In this seven-minute, 35-second piece, we hear from Affleck, Lehane, stunt coordinator Ra Rondell, director of photography Robert Richardson, composer Harry Gregson-Williams and editor William Goldenberg. As implied by the title, this featurette details an action scene found in the film. While brief, it presents a good mix of notes.

Five Deleted Scenes fill a total of 15 minutes, 56 seconds. Most of that running time comes from an alternate opening, one in which Joe and Emma don’t already know each other. It takes up nine minutes, 25 seconds and offers a mildly intriguing variant, but not anything memorable.

As for the others, one in which we formally meet Joe’s brother offers interesting material, albeit nothing crucial. The additional three clips seem superficial.

We can view the scenes with or without commentary from Affleck. He tells us a little about the sequences but fails to deliver us much information. Don’t feel too sad if you skip Affleck’s deleted scene commentary.

The disc opens with an ad for Kong: Skull Island. No trailer for Night appears here.

In the crowded world of gangster films, Live By Night fails to stand out from the crowd. Aspects of the story show promise but the end result feels sluggish and lackluster. The Blu-ray presents strong picture and audio as well as a decent set of supplements. Despite the talent involved, Night seems bland and forgettable.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.4444 Stars Number of Votes: 9
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