It’s exciting to see Shyamalan on such confident footing once more, all these years later.
Boston seems like the most forbidding city in crime movies. There are lots of movies about criminals in Los Angeles, Chicago, New York and points between, but somehow in Boston the wounds cut deeper, the characters are angrier, their resentments bleed, their grudges never die, and they all know everybody else's business. The novelist Dennis Lehane captured that dour gloom in his books inspiring "Mystic River" and now "Gone Baby Gone." What would it take to make his characters happy?
This is his fourth story involving Patrick Kenzie (Casey Affleck) and Angie Gennaro (Michelle Monaghan), lovers and business partners, who are private investigators specializing in tracking down deadbeats. Approached by clients who have deadly matters on their mind, Patrick and Angie protest that they're just garden-variety PIs, don't carry guns, aren't looking for heavy lifting. Then somehow they end up with crucifixion murders, kidnapped babies and, as always, people who are not who, or what, they seem.
This could become a franchise, if we didn't start grinning at their claims to be basically amateurs. In "Gone Baby Gone," Ben Affleck, making his debut as a director, assumes we haven't read the four novels, approaches Patrick and Angie head on and surrounds them with a gallery of very, very intriguing characters. He has his brother Casey and Monaghan play babes in the deep, dark woods, their youth and inexperience working for them as they wonder about what veteran cops don't question. The result is a superior police procedural, and something more -- a study in devious human nature.
I know, the title sounds like the movie should star Bill Haley and the Comets. But there is a rough authenticity from the first shots, especially when we meet a woman named Bea McCready (Amy Madigan) and her husband Lionel (Titus Welliver), who don't think the cops are doing enough to track down her 4-year-old niece. They think people who know the neighborhood and don't wear badges might find out more. They're right.