Writer, director, star and producer Ben Affleck’s sprawling gangster epic charts the rise of a Prohibition hoodlum from disenchanted Great War veteran and Boston stickup man, to Florida rum runner and Mob big shot.
Along the way, Affleck’s co-stars deliver some crackerjack performances, including Sienna Miller as a dangerously slinky gangster’s moll, Elle Fanning as a would-be starlet-turned-revivalist preacher and Mathew Maher as a lethally unhinged, creepily lisping Ku Klux Klansman.
The climactic shoot-out packs quite a punch, too.
Yet despite all this the movie, based on a novel by Dennis Lehane, fails to grip as much as you might hope.
Clean-cut Affleck doesn’t really convey the ex-soldier’s bitterness or the mobster’s ruthlessness, instead putting his efforts into impressing us with his character’s progressive credentials as he faces down bigots and champions diversity, not least by romancing Zoë Saldana’s sultry Cuban.
He’s just too decent and too PC to be a credible Prohibition-era crook and that mens the film lacks a vital dark edge.