Live By Night Blu-ray Review


ManufacturerWarner Brothers
ModelLive By Night
StudioWarner Brothers
TitleLive By Night
AudioDolby Atmos
MPAA RatingR
Length129 Minutes
DirectorBen Affleck
StarsBen Affleck, Elle Fanning, Brendan Gleeson
Review DateMarch 28, 2017

Summary: What you put out into this world will always come back to you, but it never comes back how you predict. Taking fatherly advice is not in Joe Coughlin’s nature. Instead, the WWI vet is a self-proclaimed anti-establishment outlaw, despite being the son of the Boston Police Deputy Superintendent. Jow’s not all bad, though; in fact, he’s not really bad enough for the life he’s chosen. Unlike the gangsters he refuses to work for, he has a sense of justice and an open heart, and both work against him, leaving him vulnerable time and again–in business and in love. Driven by a need to right the wrongs committed against him and those close to him, Joe heads down a risky path that goes against his upbringing and his own moral code. Leaving the cold Boston winter behind, he and his reckless crew turn up the heat in Tampa. And while revenge may taste sweeter than the molasses that infuses every drop of illegal rum he runs, Joe will learn that is comes at a price.

Movie Review: While Ben Affleck has had his detractors over the years, he’s proven to be quite skilled. He has his screenwriting Oscar for Good Will Hunting, and directed Argo to a Best Picture win just a few years ago. While often painted in the media a certain way, listening to the commentary track on Good Will Hunting with him always reminds me of how smart and sharp of a person he is.

Unfortunately, with this film he seems to have tried to do too much on his own. He wrote the screenplay that is adapted from a novel, directs the movie, and stars in it. Despite a few good pieces in there, it lacks to cohesion that you want and it rambles on too long at times. Some of the side plots that exist, like his feuding with the KKK, are only explored in a very rudimentary way and don’t have any depth to them. This is the case for many of the threads, which have some meat to them but don’t go into enough depth about what is happening.

Despite this, the movie is just too long. When I expected it to end, it just added on another scene and then another scene. I feel that there is a good movie here, just it didn’t come together well in the end. Edited differently and putting more emphasis on certain plot lines while cutting others out would lead to a tighter, more well-rounded film instead of one that tries to do too much and winds up not doing any of it well.

Technical Review: The biggest shame is that Live By Night does not get an UltraHD Blu-ray release and is stuck on a standard Blu-ray disc. The film was shot with an Alexa 65 and RED cameras with 6K or greater resolution, which we saw used to marvelous results recently on Passengers. A 4K digital intermediate means that there is a master with all the resolution out there, but we don’t get to see it. The Blu-ray disc itself is as good as Blu-ray can get, with lots of detail, great black levels, and a rich color palette. So many of the scenes set in Florida call out for use of WCG and HDR, and fine textures of the clothing that the characters wear look great but could just jump off the screen on UHD.

The soundtrack leaves nothing behind. Atmos is well used for both action scenes and atmospheric effects while the subwoofer provides a steady bottom-end for the shootouts during the film. If you are listening at lower levels the dialogue can be harder to make out sometimes, so you’ll want to have it closer to reference level or use the features on your receiver to bring it up. That huge dynamic range gives you a soundtrack that is top notch and places you right in the middle of a car chase or a nightclub with aplomb.

Special Features: Four featurettes (Live By Night’s Prolific Author, In Close Up: Creating a Classic Car Chase, Angels with Dirty Faces: The Women of Live By Night, The Men of Live By Night), Deleted Scenes with Commentary, and Directory’s Commentary.

Review System: Vizio P65-C1 display, Oppo UDP-203 UltraHD Blu-ray Player, KEF Ci5160RL-THX Fronts, Ci3160RL-THX Center, 2x Ci200RR-THX Surrounds, 4x CI200RR-THX Atmos Speakers, Anthem MRX 1120 Receiver.

Review Summary

ProductLive By Night Blu-ray
ReviewerChris Heinonen
ProsReference quality image and audio on the Blu-ray disc.
Cons6K sources and a 4K digital intermediate cry out for an UltraHD Blu-ray version, but the film needs better editing to be more engrossing.
SummaryLive By Night has lots of promise, but gets lost when trying to go down too many plot lines. Likely trying to fit in all the details from the novel, it leaves you with the problem of too many things that are all not developed in the detail they need to be. The image and audio are absolutely top notch, and the Blu-ray is as good as this will look unless they decide to release an UltraHD version down the road.
Value5 / 5
Performance5 / 5
Overall2.5 / 5