Gone Baby Gone
Good crime dramas come along so rarely that it's really hard to give any that are announced serious consideration. A lot of times, crime drama is just another way to package "action" and "big, muscled guy saves the day" without making it look like an Arnold or Stallone flick. So it is rare when you get to see a great crime drama that makes you thank yourself for loving movies.
Ben Affleck seems synonymous with us today with words that we join together, like Beniffer. We think of his movie choices as being either bad or being the love interest. However, we are quick to forget that from the same guy who did "Daredevil", is the same guy who co-wrote the movie great "Good Will Hunting". I know when I saw the trailer for this movie and saw Affleck was not only the writer but the director I didn't even think back to his earlier work. This was his first serious directorial debut and I wasn't the only one who cringed when we heard the news. Then I started hearing reviews for it being a positive movie going experience and soon it was nominated for an Oscar. Not that Oscars are anything that influence my movie likes but I had to at least give this movie a chance before it disappointed me.
Four year old Amanda McCready (Madeline O'Brien) is abducted from her home in Boston and the police make little headway in the case. Her aunt, Beatrice McCready (Amy Madigan) hires two private detectives, Patrick Kenzie (Casey Affleck) and Angie Gennaro (Michelle Monaghan) to use their street connections to try and find Amanda. Patrick and Angie get the cooperation of the Boston Police through Captain Jack Doyle (Morgan Freeman). He lets them in on all the information that the handling detectives, Detective Remy Bressant (Ed Harris) and Detective Nick Poole (John Ashton) , have. The two PIs struggle with drug dealers, pedophiles, gangs, and the rough streets of Dorchester to find some clue as to what happen to Amanda. They struggle with all these outside forces as well as risk their own relationship with each other and possible their lives.
If you haven't noticed by now, the cast is a vast array of talent and those that are "lesser known" display a great array of talent as sharp as the bigger names. Casey Affleck is really a superb actor and he stood out the most to me in this picture. He plays this skinny, white, Boston PI who seems lost in what he should do yet he seems know where to ask questions and how to carry himself on the mean streets. It really was a pleasure to see him act. Rarely does putting your family members in rolls mean success, just ask Guy Richie and Steven Spielberg. Morgan Freeman has a great presence in this film but it is limited. Ed Harris definitely gets to work with a great character and a great role. This seemed like a perfect role for him. I also have to say that Amy Ryan did a great job as well. You really felt for her character in the beginning then get to hate her and then yo yo back in forth until the end of the movie. Michelle Monaghan is good in this too but her character seems to be more in the background than really a main character.
I also have to make one point that I always rack my brain with. Since I'm pretty far from Hollywood and am not immersed in the culture this probably shows you how different a kid from the mid-west and people from the country of Hollywood look at things differently. There are a lot of ugly people in this movie. There are overweight, fugly, and/or messed up looking people throughout. I don't know, first of all, how anyone can make out a casting call that says "Looking for really grotesque looking people, such as people who look like their family has inbred for the last twelve generations". Then I can't understand people seeing that casting call and wanting to apply for the role. It really does amaze me.
Grade - A+
This was such a great movie; a real top notch crime drama. It was gripping, it was compelling, it was moving, and it was shocking. Ben Affleck showed some titanic talent in his directorial style and his script. The story seems out of place with this "good looking boy". The twists the story take keep you interested and drive the story forward whether you are prepared or not. The ending was a bit of a shocker but the final reveal was jaw dropping. I have to say that Angie's ending in the movie was something I didn't really agree with and didn't really understand why her character would want what she wanted. The ending reminded me so much of what I felt at the end of "Empire Strikes Back". So much was accomplished, there was a happy ending of sorts, but it didn't really seem like the good guys completely won and the bad guys completely lost. I think that's why this movie is a great mark in the history books of crime drama and I hope both Afflecks show their talent again like they did here.