I liked Ben Affleck’s directing in Argo and I loved the Town. I don’t think it’s a great choice for a director to also be the star, but Kenneth Brannagh has proved me wrong on many an occasion. Friday night, when my wife and I were flipping through Netflix, I saw Gone Baby Gone in the listings, and I remembered that was Ben Affleck’s first movie. I also remembered critics generally liked it and that it was a neo-noir.
We gave it a shot.
I’m very glad we did. This is very much a film noir. The fingerprints of hardboiled fiction are all over it. Casey Affleck did a great job, and they played up his lack of physicality – though I think I would have preferred Jeremy Renner (who did a great job in the Town) or another actor that could deliver on the acting but could also provide a more physical presence.
The plot is properly labyrinthine, and the character of Patrick Kenzie is an almost perfect modern redition of the hardboiled detective. I don’t think his partner, Angie – played by Michelle Monaghan – is portrayed as well. She certainly seemed the smarter of the two, but it might have been better just to remove that character. She seemed superfluous, used more as romantic link than as a partner. Perhaps it could have been just Angie’s case, removing the character of Patrick. If there only has to be one character, and you want to do something a little edgy, give us a hardboiled female detective.
My wife commented that the movie seemed a bit slow-moving, but we were about to watch the Raid: Redemption until she remembered she had, in fact, already watched it, so I think this was more about her expecting an action movie. For an almost two hour movie (114 minutes according to Wikipedia), I found it went by very quickly. Then again, I was completely engrossed. The movie really held me.
I give Gone Baby Gone 4 taste-bags out of 5, mostly because I think one of the partners was completely wasted, which weighed the movie down a bit.