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"Gone Baby Gone"

Directed by Ben Affleck.
Written by Ben Affleck and Aaron Stockard.  Based on the novel by Dennis Lahane.
Starring Casey Affleck, Michelle Monaghan, Ed Harris and Morgan Freeman.
Release Year:  2007
Review Date:  10/25/07


You know, we as a people have been giving Ben Affleck a hard time for quite a while now, but with his last couple of acting gigs and now this turn as a director, I'm kinda pulling for Ben to have his reputation turned around!

"Gone Baby Gone" doesn't just feel like "Mystic River", it was written by the same freakin' guy.  The plots are different but what isn't is the intensity of the characters, the female leads and the Boston setting; in "Gone Baby Gone", Casey Affleck stars as Patrick Kensie, a private eye hired by a family that has just lost a young girl to an apparent kidnapping.  Along with his girlfriend/business partner Angie (Michelle Monaghan, from "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang" and "M:I-3"), Patrick works with the police to locate the missing girl; the cops, led by a black police chief named Doyle (Morgan Freeman, clearly not looking like a "Doyle") and a detective named Bressant (Ed Harris), aren't wild about working with a P.I. but state law dictates the relationship.  What they discover is that this kidnapping is WAY out of the ordinary.

Even though I am constantly amazed that anyone puts Casey Affleck to work (even his own brother) because his slow, monotone style just never seems to work, he is not a bad fit here, in a world where everyone in Boston is yelling and cursing at a mile a minute and there's Affleck, putting on his familiar slowly-spoken dialogue.  It's clear that the Afflecks have a lot of love for Beantown; you can always tell when actors are being used and non-actors are being used, and there are a TON of non-actors in "Gone Baby Gone."  I loved that about the film, in addition to any time we get to soak up Ed Harris working on film.  He's excellent again here, and it was just really fucking cool to see John Ashton in a movie again; he's the old Taggart character from the first two "Beverly Hills Cop" movies and I half-expected to see Judge Reinhold show up, too!  The film has a very tense shootout mid-movie that is also excellent, and Boston as a character in "Gone Baby Gone" is always interesting from a visual standpoint.

And, the ending of "Gone Baby Gone" starts out badly but works its way to a great end-end; I say this because what starts out as a strange conclusion builds to a thought-provoking last few frames, which I loved.  Really, now that I think about it, the only things I really didn't like about this movie were the two lead actors, Casey Affleck and Monaghan...otherwise, while "Gone Baby Gone" isn't going to make a run for an Oscar, it's still solid entertainment that is good drama for the entire family.  That is, if your family regularly drops the f-bomb.

Rating:  $9.50 Show


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Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09