Gone Baby Gone review by Jackass Tom

Two reasons for caution when entering Gone Baby Gone initially. First is that Ben Affleck’s name is attached as director. Ben has been a bit unlucky and unfairly targeted by the tabloids in recent years and it has began to show in his overall body of work. Lately it seems like he has taken some time off to relax and be a daddy, but now he comes back behind the camera in Gone Baby Gone. The question on everyone’s mind is whether his touch still carries film poison. The second reason to exercise caution is that Gone Baby Gone fits within a detective genre that has been oversaturated since the success of movies like Se7en and Silence of the Lambs. A lot of crap has come out since (does anyone remember Along Came A Spider?) to the point where I don’t regularly seek out the genre like I once did. Well, let me say, that after viewing the film I advise you to throw caution to the wind and get ready to accept Gone Baby Gone.

The movie opens with a media circus surrounding the family of a girl named Amanda McCready who was kidnapped in a blue collar Boston neighborhood. The whole neighborhood seems to be turning its attention to the events unfolding around this one little smiling face in a pool of rough and tumble characters. Private Detective Patrick Kenzie (Casey Affleck) and his partner Angie Gennaro (Michelle Monaghan) are locals to the neighborhood and eventually gets hired “on the side” to augment the investigation as the little girl’s aunt thinks the police aren’t doing enough. They are apprehensive at first, as Genaro puts it to her partner, “I don’t want to find a little kid in the dumpster.” But eventually they decide to take the case.

The two meet with Captain Jack Doyle (Morgan Freeman) who is leading the investigation. Being outsiders to the force, Kenzie and Genaro are given the obligatory stiff arm at first but then lead to Detective Remy Bressant (Ed Harris – at his best) and Detective Nick Poole (John Ashton) to help out with the investigation in anyway they can. Kenzie’s street smarts and borderline neighborhood connections prove to be useful in finding information and leads on suspects. As they get deeper into the investigation, Kenzie and Generao are faced with questions of who they can and can’t trust.

Gone Baby Gone ended up being a delightful little detective thriller that keeps the audience guessing till the end. Its not the best of its kind but its definitely a fine addition to the collection of other great twisty-turney private dect. films. I don’t want to get too gushy but a lot of the credit for this film goes to first time director Ben Affleck. He created a true-to-life gritty, dirty feel in the Dorchester neighborhood of Boston. There are lots of shots of neighborhood regulars who are obviously NOT the run of the mill glamorized Hollywood extras. The people in this film feel like America’s forgotten cross section. From the streets to the bars to the local homes it feels genuine. He seemed to get the most from his actors as well. Casting his brother Casey (whom I normally enjoy in more comedic roles) seemed a bit nepotisical, as he may have been the weakest link in the movie, but he wasn’t bad. I mean, he wasn’t Gigli bad. Freeman played his usual stoic self. Ed Harris’ grizzly bear detective and Amy Ryan’s white trash mother roles were the most applause worthy.

Also I’m happy to say Affleck didn’t try to over-direct the film. The camera work has a nice stark cleanness to it, somewhat reminiscent of an Eastwood directed film, but at the same time he didn’t go overboard and show off with endless, distracting trick shots (the most recent casualty to going overboard, Liev Schrieber’s directorial debut Everything is Illuminated). He knew the story. He knew the location. He had a vision and he went after it. The results speak for themselves.

7 out of 10 Jackasses
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