Writer-director-star Ben Affleck goes for broke and goes bust with an American tale that mistakes muchness for greatness. He plays Joe Coughlin, a vet who learned in World War I that “the rules we lived by were lies, and didn’t apply to those who made them.” (This line, like so very many others, is delivered via Affleck’s narcotized voiceover.) So he sets up as a thief in his native Boston, much to the chagrin of his father the policeman. Pop the cop is just one of several disappointed dads in the film; though the others — an Italian mob boss, a brittle sheriff — don’t get nearly the same level of care in their presentation. It’s a pity; the theme showed more promise than the various struggles over race, class, and general have/have-nottery. (Coughlin winds up down south, handling booze production for the mafia and romancing a dark-skinned beauty.) Also more promise than our hero’s enduring attachment to the one that got away, and the supposed preservation of his supposed character. The dialogue is full of mock-portentous lines like “It’s not enough to break the rules; you have to be strong enough to make them.” The plot is full of gaping holes like “Why doesn’t the sheriff who warned Coughlin to stay away from the white part of town go after him when he goes to war with the Klan?” And the cast is full of talented people — Brendan Gleeson, Sienna Miller, Chris Cooper, et alia — who seem slightly embarrassed to be there. (2016) — Matthew Lickona
This movie is not currently in theaters.