Recent late night text from Kevin to the Tough Guy Squad: Hey guys, for some reason I am watching “Live by Night” for the first time since I wrote about it last year. Mike, do you remember when they kind of implied that Affleck’s character had a superhuman ability to absorb pain like Bruce Willis in “Unbreakable,” and this never comes up in the movie again?
Mike: I do! My favorite part of that movie is at the very end when a tiny dude throws some random guy off a balcony and then picks up a tommy gun, aims it, and shoots him while he’s already falling to his death.
Kevin: Seriously, I can’t remember the last time a movie introduced so many plot threads it doesn’t pay off, and then is like, “Oh shit we’re already at the two-hour mark, let’s bring everyone together at this hotel for no reason and have an incomprehensible gunfight.
Mike: It really didn’t seem to know what it wanted to be. It was boring to watch, the bad guys were an afterthought, and there was a lot of tongue-in-cheek humor that was weird and out of place.
Kevin: Yeah and Affleck’s character starts out not wanting to be a gangster, and he only changes his mind to get revenge on the guy who killed Sienna Miller, who it turns out wasn’t actually dead. But then he goes to Tampa and forgets all about that until the last 10 minutes of the movie.
Mike: Ha, I know! Did you find it strange that he gets out of jail and that one mob boss talks to him for like five minutes and then is all “great, here’s the keys to all of Florida.” Whereas I have a shitty, zero-responsibility job, and I had to go through three different interviews to get it.
Kevin: And what was up with that Elle Fanning subplot? Her strict religious dad Chris Cooper lets his teenage daughter go by herself to become an actress in Hollywood, where she apparently re-enacts the entire plot of “Neon Demon” off-screen, before she comes back, gives a speech about a lack of morals in the community (in Tampa!) that apparently threatens to bring down Affleck’s entire operation, but then all of a sudden she decides to kill herself?
Mike: Yeah I thought it was going to turn out that she had been killed by Affleck’s right-hand-man to shut her up, or something interesting. Boy was I wrong! Turns out none of that mattered at all!
Kevin: Like when Vinny from “Doogie Howser” shows up and looks like he’s gonna be a thorn in Affleck’s side and screw things up for him. Nope, we don’t see him again until the very end.
Mike: I also liked it when Affleck got kicked in the testicles.
Kevin: I liked when one of the crime bosses said at the very end that Affleck’s character Joe Coughlin was the “king of Tampa,” even though nothing we had seen up to that point in the movie would indicate that.
CJ: Wow, I didn’t realize this movie finally depicted how Tampa became the center of the financial and cultural world!
Mike: “He’s the tube-top king of Tampa!”
Kevin: “It’s MTV Spring Break, hosted by the king of Tampa himself, Joe Coughlin!”
Mike: “LISTEN, Joe Coughlin is bar none the undisputed king of alligator heads and souvenir flip-flops, and don’t you ever forget it!”
CJ: “No one brings in a truckload of Fireball as fast as Joe Coughlin!”
Kevin: “You listen to me and you listen good: no one sells a puka shell necklace in this town without Joe Coughlin’s permission!”
Mike: “Joe Coughlin invented frozen daiquiris in this town! You hear me? He is THE MAN!”
CJ: “He will lead an assault on your home and take you down with 20 T-shirt cannons if you get out of line!”
Mike: “Don’t think for one minute you can open up a tattoo parlor specializing in tramp stamps without Joe Coughlin getting his cut!”
CJ: “Joe Coughlin invented the words ‘dope’ and ‘lit.’ He’s an institution!”
Mike: “Look at this place. What was here before Joe Coughlin? Nothing but Fudgy Wudgy bar salesmen and senior citizens with metal detectors. Now it’s an empire!”
Kevin: “He put Tampa on the map. Pirate’s Cove Oyster House, Barry’s Bikini Bar, The Crab Shack off I-85? None of that would exist without Joe fucking Coughlin!”