Gone Baby Gone achieves a tremendously engaging level of suspense, and does it through the depiction of a perplexing story about a young private detective Patrick Kenzie (Casey Affleck in a superb role), who – along with his partner and lover Angie Gennaro (Michelle Monaghan) – takes on a difficult case and tries to find a kidnapped girl. Ben Affleck, never really considered a leading man in the acting business, proved for the first time (and not for the last) that his directorial skills are top notch. His high aspirations make Gone Baby Gone a fresh and entertaining addition to the crime thriller genre. The film takes place in Boston, mostly in its underground world, and does a great job of portraying the twisted mechanism that governs the corrupted crime scene and all its members.
Enhanced by great supporting performances from Ed Harris and Morgan Freeman – who play the two shady yet plausible Boston area police officers – the cast astounds with an unusually realistic attention to details in the representations of regular working-class folks, who are trapped in an intrigue that’s literally making them go insane after only a short period of time. In all its sensational, captivating glory, the story presented in Gone Baby Gone looks as though it’s been taken straight out of a newspaper’s front page, delivering many real-life moments of pure drama. Apart from depicting the step-by-step investigation, the film also aspires to be a considerable psychological piece, pondering how the mess surrounding the case rebounds on the personal and professional life of the main character. Patrick, giving all that he can in order to discover the truth, begins to doubt his sanity and becomes infuriated with his inability to cope with what’s been happening around him.
As usual in this kind of movies the truth is hidden several layers deep, and in order to reveal the whole one has to go through a troubling amount of more or less acceptable evidence. Every new and unexpected fact found by Patrick adds up to the masterfully build suspense. Though unmistakably intense and utterly gripping, Gone Baby Gone offers one twist too many and changes its message for a less entertaining, yet still perfectly valuable one. In the world of corruption and hypocrisy nothing is certain, and Ben Affleck’s debut feature is not only a taut and downright realistic thriller, it’s also a hard-hitting exemplification of all the values that rule this shabby place.