16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
Based on a novel from the same author as Mystic River, this shares much of the same ambiguity and flawed characters of that movie. Set in the seedier and grittier parts of Boston, the tale revolves around a missing girl. Casey Affleck and Michelle Monaghan play the private detectives who are requested by relatives to help the search, and the beginning of the movie introduces us to a milieu which shows an unforgiving background for bringing up the child. The characters we meet include pimps, hard-assed barmen, mules (drug runners), dubious cops and various other dregs of society.
What is remarkable about the movie is how convincing is the air of authenticity of the neighbourhoods and houses. It all feels horribly real. And not least the characters, who all have their flaws as well as their streaks of humanity. Be warned, the language, particularly in the first third of the movie, is full of intense profanity which may put some off, but is certainly in keeping with the locales and personalities.
As the film progresses, it takes directions we could not suspect, raising genuine issues on where lines are drawn, how the thin wedge of corruption can take its toll, and should the role of a parent be questioned? It's controversial subject matter, unflinchingly portrayed, and absorbing with it.
There's no doubt that Ben Affleck has done the wise thing and surround himself with terrific co-workers... His brother Casey puts in a blisteringly underplayed performance that never fails to convince us of both his working class credentials and his strong moral compass. The entire effect is completed by the supporting cast comprising the likes of John Ashton, Morgan Freeman and the ever terrific Ed Harris who give real gravitas to proceedings. Harry Gregson Williams has delivered another unobtrusive but powerful soundtrack, and Oscar winning John Toll's cinematography is spectacular (particularly in this crystal clear Blu-Ray).
A stunning debut then from the elder Affleck, and another terrific performance from Casey Affleck further cementing his rise to stardom.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
This is a first rate crime thriller, set in Boston.
Casey Affleck plays Patrick Kenzie, a thirty-one year old, private detective, who has a similarly aged girlfriend, Angie Genaro. He and his girlfriend specialise in tracing missing persons.
Morgan Freeman plays Captain Jack Doyle, a sixty-something senior police officer, who lost his twelve year old daughter when she was murdered. Ed Harris plays Detective Remy Bressant, a fifty-something, hard-nosed, fiercely determined police detective.
A four year old girl, named Amanda McCready, is abducted from a rough neighbourhood on the edge of downtown Boston. Soon afterwards, a seven year old boy named Johnny Pietro is abducted from a nearby neighbourhood. The Boston Police Force goes into overdrive on the hunt for the missing children. The desperate McCready family enlist the help of Patrick to trace their missing girl, and Detective Bressant is tasked by Captain Doyle to work in conjunction with Patrick to hunt down the abductor.
What follows then is a very tense manhunt, as Patrick and Angie, working alongside the police, leave no stone unturned in their combined efforts to save the two children...
The acting is superb, especially Casey Affleck, who gives a tour de force performance, and Ed Harris, who as always is excellent. Morgan Freeman's role is also crucial, but often peripheral to the main action. The film doesn't insult the intelligence of the viewer - it doesn't sign-post where all the twists and turns are leading to, and although the run-time is nearly two hours, the film's pacing and tension never wilts. At one point, Patrick does do something completely unexpected, which in the real world you just know would effectively result in the end of his life as a free man. However, in the movie there are no apparent consequences for him, and for me, this was the one aspect of the film which lacked any plausibility.
For this reason only, i.e. the moral and procedural ambiguity at one key stage of the story, I'd give the film 4.5 stars rather than 5 stars. Nonetheless, it's still highly recommended.
Thank you for taking the time to read this review.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Before the film starts, a little girl of 4 has gone missing from the seedier side of Boston, and a police search is well under way. Now a young private investigator is called in, employed by the child's aunt, because he is thought to have connections on the street that the police cannot tap into. He and his female partner set about their task but, somewhat against stereotype in such stories, they are at all times willing to work with, call in or support the police. Eventually lead character Patrick Kenzie, the PI, becomes obsessed with finding little Amanda, perhaps a little more obsessed than the background story leads you to expect.
First of all it's a good story that is never what I would call gripping yet holds your attention at all times. It has few weak points in the screenplay, direction or editing but I found the casting of Casey Affleck in the lead role a slight distraction; he's been in a few blockbusters before (American Pie 2, and all three of the 'Oceans' series) but in a pivotal role here, and one which ultimately decides the outcome and the moral conscience of the whole movie, I don't think he's quite up to the task. Inevitably questions will be asked about his selection given that big brother Ben Affleck was the director; I do wonder though that with a different person at the helm, he would not have been so much as auditioned. Fortunately his shortcomings are overshadowed somewhat by a couple of reliable old pros in Morgan Freeman and Ed Harris, but the star for me was Amy Ryan who played the negligent, coke-dealing Helene McCready, mother of the missing girl. I have never heard of Amy Ryan before but I was very impressed with how convincingly she played her part.
I haven't read the novel by Dennis Lehane (Gone, Baby, Gone) and I'm tempted to assume that there's no point, because if the film accurately portrays the written tale, I probably know all there is to know. But I have a few other as yet unread Lehane novels and this film has certainly pushed them nearer to the top of my 'to-be-read' pile. He's widely respected as a top-class writer.
As a film I think it works as suspense drama and with some excellent cinematography depicting the less attractive side to what I had previously thought was a classy American city with a rich history; it still is of course, but none of that is seen here because from beginning to end it is pretty dark and depressing, very much a different impression to picture-postcard perfect that some novels make out.
So there may be a whiff of nepotism on his part but Ben Affleck has made a highly accomplished directorial debut. There's a lot of profanity in it, especially at the beginning, so it's not a film to watch while the kids are around. There's no sexual element visually, but there are some very unpleasant issues discussed (such as child abuse) and there are some bursts of violence, some shocking. A 15 certificate is barely acceptable in my opinion, as this is overall a very adult themed movie. Having said all that, intelligent dramas seem ever thinner on the ground these days so this, unpleasant though it is in concept, is still like a breath of fresh air. Definitely worth buying or renting.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
The Boston Boy has 'done good' and redeemed himself in the eyes of those who matter. This was an unexpected film. I had read 'Gone Baby Gone, several years ago, as a great fan of Dennis Lehane. His series with Kenzie, the Detective is gritty, tough and beautifully written. This film almost measures up to the book. No film can ever do a book justice, I feel. The unexpected to me was the choice of Kenzie, as Casey Affleck. He is not at all how I imagined the man. A slim, boyish looking man, the antithesis of the bulked up, middle-aged Patrick Kenzie I remembered. But after the first couple of scenes, I got used to him, in fact accepted this man as Kenzie. Casey Affleck has the kind of authority that takes over the scene- he is a natural, it seems. Angie on the other hand was a disappointment, sort of a window dressing and not the fully engaged woman of Lehane's books.
The story centers on a 4 year old girl gone missing. Her mother, Helene McCray, played by Amy Ryan, has this role down part. She is a broken down Dorchester flea bitten drug ridden woman with sex as her only weapon. She does not derive much sympathy from anyone. What you see is what you get and more. She lies and her brother and sister-in-law hire Kenzie and Angie to help find the missing 4 year old. The twists and turns in this film add to the mystery and the danger. The broken down neighborhoods filled with tough men who would just as soon fight as breathe, and who are all beholden to some drug world lord are as right as rain.
Ed Harris plays a detective with authority. His character is a mainstay of the plot and what you see is not what you get. We feel that as the film moves along. the addition of real people from the neighborhoods of Boston is a plus. This is reality, baby.
A remarkable film, made all the more real with the direction of Ben Affleck. 'Goodun'yer' as a friend would say.
Recommended. prisrob 05-08-13
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
A young girl, 'Amanda McCready' (Madeline O'Brien) goes missing, her 'Aunt' and 'Uncle' hire 'private' Detectives 'Patrick Kenzie' ('Casey Affleck') and his on screen partner 'Angie Gennaro' (Michelle Monaghan) to help find their niece.
It soon becomes clear the investigating police insist that the couple take the leads from them and share information and thoughts, the couple follow a string of unhelpfull leads which slows their progress some.
One night they are drawn to a quarry where they are told.....
a suspect is willing to trade the 'little' girl for the drug money that had been taken from him by 'Amanda's' mothers friend, the
'money now in police possession.
Gun-fire and shouting leading to confusion along with a loud splah in the waters below lead the 'private' tecs' to believe the little girl had been lost, no body was found.
The story is a combination of greed and a need to justify peoples own actions, with the exception of one of the leadi cast, everybody loses something in the end, the outcome changes the status for all except the one.
You will be left wondering if the final decisions made are ones you too may have chosen, you'll see what i mean at the end of the film.
I would say that there are parts during the film that don't fall into place until much later on, but it's worth sticking with it.
not a bad effort from the brothers 'Affleck' --'Ben' being the director of the movie.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 4 November 2012
GONE BABY GONE is a crime/thriller directed by Ben Affleck (THE TOWN, ARGO) and starring Casey Affleck, Morgan Freeman and Michelle Monaghan. While it wasn't a perfect film, I still thoroughly enjoyed it. The plot was tense, gripping and very well-paced, with some nice emotional touches. The acting was flawless. Casey Affleck was amazing as the lead role and Morgan Freeman was extremely convincing as well. Some scenes were a little to complicated, but I'm glad the film got my mind going! I really enjoyed this thriller and can't wait to see the other Ben Affleck films! 7.5/10
on 20 December 2013
It might be a bit late in the day to worry about spoilers, but I'll try to avoid them. First of all, the film is beautifully shot, and there are enough overviews of Boston on clear days to enable us to savor the texture of the scuzzy lower depths in which the significant action takes place. These depths are not all on one level either. There's the working class streets where people try to do well, even as some are failing, and those who fail are connected to the denizens of the even lower depths of the druggies in the boonies, with the crack houses that are coming to have a generic look in American cop movies. Clearly, there's much attention to detail in the decor and costuming of these scenes.
The story opens with a child having been abducted from a working class home, and the girl's aunt, unhappy with the police effort, hires Patrick Kenzie (Casey Affleck) and Angie Gennaro (Michelle Monaghan), his partner and girlfriend, to supplement the police effort. Affleck (brother of Ben, who directs the movie) and Monaghan seem too pretty and well groomed to be living where they are living and having the amount of street cred that they seem to have, and the Boston accents and liberal profanity can't quite make them convincing. The other two big names in the movie, Morgan Freeman and Ed Harris as cops, inhabit their roles much more comfortably. There are a number of plot twists and revelations that seem a bit fortuitous -- for example, an African-American cop whom we see only once, but who, we are to believe , is an old buddy of Kenzie's, provides vital information, and he seems to be in the movie only to do that. That has to be done to set up a scene of excruciating moral choice between Kenzie and Doyle, Morgan Freeman's character. In this scene, it isn't clear what drives Kenzie to take the line he does, and Affleck comes off seeming weightless at his big moment. Is it his fault, or has the script failed to provide him with adequate gravitas? Even with a good script, though, Casey Affleck is never going to win a gravitas contest with Morgan Freeman. However, both have their say, and enough is done to let us understand the moral discomfort we feel at the end. The best performances are by Freeman and Harris, and Amy Madigan as the missing girl's aunt and Amy Ryan as the girl's drugged-out mother also make strong impressions. It's certainly worth seeing, but it could have been better.
I am not a great fan of American police movies and I usually find them lacking in originality and depth and I much prefer films about British police because I can identify more often with the characters portrayed and find them more true to life so I was not expecting too much when I started watching this movie but I was pleasantly surprised by this fine piece of well crafted, thoughtful and sensitive filmaking. It is about the disappearance of a little girl living in a run down area of Boston whose mother is a junkie and a prostitute who would never win a mother of the year award in any competition so the police are not exactly sympathetic towards her and treat her with contempt. Because of this the mother's sister and brother in law employ a young local private eye because they thought he could get information about the case from local people who would not never talk to the police.
What the private eye finds is completely unexpected and raises the often asked question of in what circumstances should children remain with their natural parents when the grown ups are lousy at the job and how do you balance the rights of natural parents against the duty of the authorities to safeguard a child's wellbeing when this is at risk as it is so clearly here. The plot ends with the private eye eventually coming down on one particular side of the question and in the final scene that is superbly handled you are left with the feeling as he does that maybe he should have taken a different course of action.
The film has many fine performances, especially by Morgan Freeman as the local police chief and Ed Harris as a police detective both of whom initially scorn the attempts of the private eye to help them and the movie has a depth that is rare in so many American movies of this genre and it does not wallow in sentimentality as it could so easily have given the nature of its subject matter.
'I always believed it was the things you don't choose that make you who you are - your city, your neighbourhood, your family. People here take pride in these things, like it was something you've accomplished. The bodies around their souls, the cities wrapped around those....'.
The film opens with Patrick Kenzie's (Casey Affleck) voiceover as the camera scans around his working class neighbourhood in Boston until it stops on a notice of a four year old girl's disappearance and then the media filming of her family's pleas for her return.
The voice over finishes with Kenzie telling how he asked his priest how you could get to heaven and yet protect yourself from the evil in the world - the priest's answer ends with the title quote. Patrick Kenzie and his partner Angie Gennaro personify that mix of streetwise smarts and innocence as they get involved in the search for the little girl. This is a film of complexity, things are not black and white - people try to do the right thing and it is not necessarily the right thing. The acting is very good all round but special mentions go to Casey Affleck and Amy Ryan as Helene, the girl's mother and a deeply unsympathetic character but not a caricature.
I am a big fan of Denis Lehane and Ben Affleck and Aaron Stockhard had a great start to their screenplay by basing it on one of his books - but they have done a good job with the screenplay too which got me past some sticky plot moments with its twists and turns.
Affleck turns out to be a much better director than I expected from his acting. One of the reasons why this is a powerful film is because it's not just a thriller. From the voiceover it's clear that Kenzie learns it's not just where you grew up that makes you who you are it's the choices you make. He makes a choice which costs him dear and has all of us wondering what our choice would be in those circumstances.
The DVD has some extras on Affleck's direction and casting and some deleted and longer scenes than ended up in the released version.
on 16 April 2012
This is a dark, morally complex movie, which doesn't let the weighty themes it explores stop it from being a cracking thriller. In his directorial debut Ben Affleck seems much more assured and in command of his material than he has been in front of the camera (though I think he remains an underrated actor as his performances in Good Will Hunting and Shakespeare in Love show).
Here Casey Affleck and Michelle Monaghan play romantically involved private investigators asked by the family of a girl who has disappeared to assist in the police investigation. The case takes them first into some of the rougher areas of south Boston before leading into the nightmarish world of child abuse and corruption.
The movie is based on the fourth of Denis Lehane's Kensie/Gennaro novels, but the story stands well on its own and the movie is superb as a version of the story and as an evocation of the underside of Boston. Affleck and Monaghan are excellent as tough, smart investigators slowly realising they are, nevertheless, in over their heads. They have a glittering supporting cast including Morgan Freeman, Ed Harris, and the sublime Amy Ryan.
Not everyone may agree with me, but I think the final scene is one of the best in recent cinema history.
There are, at my last count, 6 Kensie/Gennaro novels. One has to hope that the brothers Affleck and Ms Monaghan can be persuaded to commit a few more to celluloid before too long.