Gone Baby Gone: A 4 out of 10 Movie Review
I must admit that watching Gone Baby Gone made me uncomfortable. Bear in mind that the book that this movie is based on was published in 1998. Then look at the victim of the movie: a young girl abducted named Amanda McCready (actress’s name: Madeleine O’Brien). This whole film (and assumedly, book) seems like an instruction manual for those wanting to abduct kids! There is something very very wrong with this! The book predated Madeleine McCann’s abduction by nine years. Ben Affleck was unfortunate in his (published) directorial debut to have this unwilling companionship with real life events. This film had a delayed UK release due to the events surrounding Madeleine McCann in 2007, but now (after a long wait) we are treated to it.
Gone Baby Gone follows the path of an undeserved protagonist (Casey Affleck). He is hired as a private investigator to find an abducted child. I say “undeserved” because his talent is going to school in his neighbourhood. Man, I am in the wrong industry. I went to school and grew up in my local area. Could I become a Private Investigator? Could I go around claiming I have two extra letters after my name? Can I “borrow” a Ferrari from a camp bloke named Higgins in Hawaii? No! He is undeserved to be the protagonist, just like I am undeservedly criticising this film, but that’s life people..we have to deal with it! Casey plays this character (initially) badly. It is only until ten minutes in. that we believe that his character has grown up in this society. Monaghan though, is a completely different story. She spends most of the film looking like you could breathe on her in an unfavourable way and she may collapse. You can’t help feeling it was a mistake hiring her.
Let’s get something out of the way. Ben Affleck is mediocre (in my opinion). To me, it seems like everything he has acted in to date, shows him in simply an okay-to-crap light. Not to say he is an incapable man. I mean, he partly wrote Good Will Hunting, so he must be a clever chappie. That being said, he seems to have made some quite strange (dare I say: stupid) acting decisions. I realise that when you are an actor, if you get offered work (and especially in Hollywood) you take it, as long as it’s not pornography. However, like Ashton Kutcher and Jason Bateman, it is important to turn some of these roles down (in hope of better offers round the next corner).
Gone Baby Gone is an example of Ben’s directorial work and he has shown himself to be a much better director than he is actor (sorry Ben). The fact is, if Ben continues to direct 40 more films of this quality, then I will happily attend every single one. However, if he thinks that he should be in front of the camera again for a further 40 films, I will consider introducing Mr B Affleck to what I like to call: the kick of death. N.B. The "kick of death" is clearly not harmful or even a kick for that matter. I’m just trying to sound threatening (and failing miserably). Nevertheless, if Ben comes back for “Pearl Harbour 2: This time the Japanese win” (or something equally as stupid), then I will be most upset.
Some advice to Mr Ben Affleck though must be given:
1. Having named actors in a film implies that they are important somehow to the story. Therefore, if a certain individual is not given relevant screen time, we can assume that we shall see said person later on....Use unknown but capable actors and the audience will not be expecting anything more for the character. M Night Shyamalan, you are not!
2. The good guy is an incompetent fool who couldn’t figure out the advice given in tip 1. (see above)
3. Try not to get into the habit of hiring Mr Casey Affleck as it is annoying to review a film with the names Casey and Ben Affleck. Usually reviews are not on first name basis. However, I feel I am getting a little too friendly to a man I’ve never met. Surely, it is not good cricket to keep referring to the director as “Ben” and the main actor as “Casey”. It’s probably me being moronic, but the English language is hard enough Ben. Don’t make it harder for me!
4. Get the lead actors (played by Casey Affleck and Michelle Monaghan) to actually have chemistry together. It was like a fridge in this relationship.
5. Give ‘Taggart’ some decent lines. It’s great to see the old “Beverly Hills Cop”..er...cop, back in action. John Ashton doesn’t seem to have aged at all and deserved some more credible screen-time dammit!
6. Unnecessary and confusing clichéd monologues at beginnings of movies are a waste of breath, since most people don’t even listen properly, let alone find the relevance halfway through the film. The fact is, most of us got confused at the rather simple definitions given at the beginning of pulp fiction, let alone what is to be heard in this film.
7. Morgan Freeman was not a convincing father who has lost a child. Not enough anger and bottled up hatred going on behind those eyes. Freeman has shown to have acted better than that and I was most disappointed by his performance. In truth, his unspoken performance was better than his spoken. Perhaps it would have been better unspoken. Sometimes it’s important not to spell out every last detail for the audience.
These all seem very trivial problems, but we all have to improve. Ed Harris did an excellent job as an intimidating cop. The film’s title is spoken eloquently and hauntingly by the most impressive Edi Gathegi as a Drug Baron named Cheese. The soundtrack is well used along with some extremely good sound use and lack of sound use. There is a flashing, heartbeat section in the film that made me feel as bad as Casey did (no spoilers here..Oh no)!
Despite the scary similarities to real life situations, the story diverges off onto its own path (thankfully) and carves out a history of its own. I enjoyed Gone Baby Gone. It is not a film I would watch again or buy on DVD, but it is certainly a hint of what is to come from the Afflecks. I for one am looking forward to the next Ben Affleck film.....Did I just say that? I think I need a lie down.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5