One thinks, when first deciding to see Gone Baby Gone (and as a critic that decision was preordained for yours truly here) that they are certainly in for the treat of a lifetime. I mean, Ben Affleck directs! Wow!! First the pleasure of watching him in Gigli and now this!!! Okay, so my sarcasm isn't all that subtle tonight, so sue me. Actually if you are going to sue me (for my vast fortune?) then it should be for this: I actually enjoyed this movie. Seriously, I did.
Affleck, with his feature debut and in his second attempt at a screenplay (the first won him and Matt Damon an Oscar, but we all know that was probably about 93% Damon, 6% Affleck and 1% more Damon) has pieced together an interesting bit of neo-noir. Starring Ben's little brother Casey (the true acting talent running in that family) as a runtish private dick with a surprisngly hard nose, a thick Boston accent and the requisite hot assistant/girlfriend in Michelle Monaghan, Gone Baby Gone is the story of a missing little girl, her deadbeat drug addict mother (played with the aplomb of a motherfucking mack truck in overdrive by inevitable Oscar nominee Amy Ryan - ed. note: I was right) and the one person deadset on finding the little girl and bringing her back to a mother that probably isn't going to love her anyway. We also get the appearances of Ed Harris and Morgan Freeman, two very talented actors who are no longer ever used to their full capacity, in a pair of roles they should be so achingly familiar with by now as to be able to phone them in.
Replete with a slew of twists and turns - as any good noir should be - and all the suitable Philip Marlowe-esque screentalk to make Affleck (Casey) seem all the more credible (though his acting chops do that in spades), Gone Baby Gone motors along at just the right speed - not so slow as to cause a traffic jam yet not so fast as to seem reckless - until one of the most ridiculous endings to come out of a movie in recent memory. I realize the moral aspects until the very (possibly) controversial ending. Perhaps I do rag on the elder Affleck a bit more than he deserves (his acting isn't really so bad as his choices of roles are) but it still comes as a major surprise that he has put together such a fine film noir as Gone Baby Gone. Impressive indeed. [10/27/07]