Plot: What’s it about?
It’s hard to believe that its been ten years since baby-faced Matt Damon and Ben Affleck took the stand at the Oscars to claim their Academy Award. The movie was “Good Will Hunting”, the surprise sleeper hit of late 1997 and the movie made both Damon and Affleck stars. While Affleck enjoyed some earlier success as an “A” list star, Damon had less ups and downs and is now the current “It” man. It’s no secret that the two are lifelong friends and are both very talented actors and writers. It’s with “Gone Baby Gone” that Ben Affleck stepped behind the camera to direct younger brother Casey in a movie that Affleck also co-wrote. And evidently Boston is the new New York as some recent movies have traveled north up I-95 to bean town. Clint Eastwood did it in “Mystic River” and Martin Scorsese did it in “The Departed”. “Gone Baby Gone” gives native Casey Affleck plenty of room to showcase his remarkable talent and prove that, nepotism aside, the younger Affleck can make a name for himself.
On the surface, “Gone Baby Gone” is the story of a missing little girl and the two detectives who are brought on by the family to help find her. Patrick (Casey Affleck) and Angie (Michelle Monaghan) are a young couple and Patrick’s knowledge of the area has helped him solve a few cases. Helene (Amy Adams) isn’t exactly the ideal mother and her daughter has been kidnapped. It’s not quite clear what or where she was when this happened, but Helene and her family have sought out the media to help in the investigation. Patrick and Angie are working hand in hand with the Boston Police department headed by the book Captain (Morgan Freeman) and two detectives: Remy (Ed Harris) and Nick (John Ashton). As the investigation delves deeper, some things are learned and what looks simple on the surface isn’t so simple once some facts are learned. I won’t drill further into the plot as I don’t want to risk spoiling the movie for anyone, but suffice it to say that surprises are there and it makes “Gone Baby Gone” all the better for it.
I have to say that I really enjoyed Affleck’s directorial effort. He’s obviously got a lot of talent on both sides of the camera and Casey Affleck is enjoying his first Oscar nomination, albeit not for this movie. Casey delivers a pretty good performance and the all-star ensemble cast only strengthens the film. My only complaint (aside from being a tad bit predictable) is that Michelle Monaghan is underused. Monaghan’s star is on the rise and she was relegated to a back seat player here. I feel that her role could have been played by nearly anyone and she might have had more time to shine if she were given Amy Adam’s role (for which she’s up for Best Supporting Actress). “Gone Baby Gone” delivers on all levels and don’t let the moniker “Directed by Ben Affleck” fool you. Once Affleck’s career in front of the camera is over, I think he’ll have a new one behind it.
Video: How does it look?
“Gone Baby Gone” is shot in a 1.85:1 VC-1 HD transfer that, for the most part, looks pretty good. The movie wasn’t exactly a big budget studio film, but it wasn’t made for pocket change either. There are a few of the shots that seem intentionally grainy and I found the HD image to look immaculate in some areas, but they were few and far between. Don’t get me wrong, the transfer looks better than any standard DVD I’ve seen but with these Blu-ray discs, the bar is significantly raised. A nice effort here, though there are better transfers out there, by far.
Audio: How does it sound?
The included PCM uncompressed soundtrack isn’t that memorable and I can only think of a few instances in which it really got a chance to shine. By and large, the movie is very dialogue-driven and I almost feel that the soundtrack was wasted due to the lack of action. It’s not a bad track, per se but the action is on screen and the sound doesn’t do much to heighten the mood. I feel we may need some subtitles in a few scenes as the Bahstan accent is a bit hard to decipher at times and Casey Affleck is a bit of a low-talker. Then again, it’s naturalistic and does add an element of realism to the role.
Supplements: What are the extras?
The Blu-ray disc isn’t exactly packed with supplements but what’s really worth a listen is the commentary by Ben Affleck and co-writer Aaron Stockard. The duo are packed full of information about the adaptation, the shoot and, of course, the location. This is actually one of the better commentaries that I’ve listened to. We also get two featurettes and deleted scenes.