As a mystery DVD, Gone Baby Gone is not bad. As a Dennis Lehane book to film adaptation it is as awful as most adaptations are. The novel was stripped of most of its essence and focused on the main plot and main characters. One of the main characters, Angie Gennaro, was also stripped of any essence to a point she might as well have been Angie Generic with Michelle Monaghan being good at standing there with her arms crossed and looking at partner Patrick Kenzie (Casey Affleck). This is basically the condensed screen adaptation of the Reader's Digest Condensed Book version of the original.
Gone Baby Gone is Ben Affleck's directorial debut and one must admit he does make a good looking movie. Unfortunately, brother Casey Affleck is all wrong for the main role of private detective Patrick Kenzie. Brother Affleck looks way too young, is way too calm, and basically unbelievable as a detective. A rookie cop, yes. A private eye, you've got to be kidding.
Affleck probably got the rights to Lehane's novel because it is set in Boston and Affleck and Boston are intimately tied. It could not possibly be because he actually liked the book as he butchers most of the story and one of the main characters, Angie Gennaro.
He did keep the basic plot: kid gets kidnapped, private eyes get hired to find kid, stuff happens, people get shot, and you figure out not all the good guys are good guys. Detectives must make a life changing decision between what is right and what is not that wrong, really.
Everybody shows up to play in Gone Baby Gone. Morgan Freeman as the police captain, Ed Harris as the police detective, Amy Ryan as the missing child's mother are all excellent. Casey Affleck seems to sleepwalk in or tiptoe around his role as if he was afraid of actually doing anything. Poor Michelle Monaghan basically serves as decoration in a role that remains only because Angie Gennaro is a main character in the original novel. You could take her character away and nothing much would change in this movie.
The movie is not bad though a bit long The adaptation sucks. Why bother buying the rights to the book if you are going to ignore most of it?
Other Dennis Lehane Reviews
Moonlight Mile: Back after an 11-year hiatus in the series Lehane is rusty but good.