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By the Gun

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By the Gun (2014)

September. 28,2014
| Drama Thriller Crime
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A rising Boston gangster (Ben Barnes) endangers those around him when he starts to make moves without the knowledge of his boss (Harvey Keitel).


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Three stars only because of the performance by Slaine as Nick's friend. This movie is comically bad. Every time you see the lead character he is either lighting a cigarette (he lights no fewer than 5 cigarettes in the opening scenes alone), or tossing a long, freshly lit cigarette out a car window. It almost seems as if somebody in production decided Nick looks good with a full Marlboro 120, but not with one that is half smoked. If it didn't mean sitting through this mud again, I'd love to go back and see exactly how many times a cigarette is lit by either Nick one of the other one dimensional wannabe gangster characters. At any given time somebody is flipping open an old school zippo and doing a Fonzarello routine lighting his smoke. The only saving grace in this film is the performance by Slaine as Nick's best friend. This guy is extremely watchable in this role (and lights up the screen instead of a smoke).


"You watched the first half of Goodfellas like a thousand times." That is an actual line from this film that feels more like a critique of itself. By the Gun is a Scorsese wannabe film that has terrible dialog and even worse accents. The only thing worse than being a Scorsese wannabe is being a Scorsese rip-off and while By the Gun does have moments of blatant plagiarism, it does quite fully embrace it. The dialog and screenplay feels like they are excerpts from better films in the same genre. It never quite gels coming out of any of these actors outside of Slaine and Harvey Keitel. The best part about this film is Slaine, he turns in a good performance but his character feels more and more like Jackie Boy from Mean Streets going into the third act. Harvey Keitel is...well, he's Harvey Keitel, this guy created the tough guy so he gets a pass just because he plays this part in his sleep. Leighton Meester does her best here and it is nowhere near enough to salvage the cast from being a complete disaster. My last and final complaint about the cast is more a question than anything, but what in the hell is Toby Jones doing in this film and what the hell was that accent? Furthermore, the film is too bright and vibrant. What we're seeing isn't doing the moments of grit any justice, they're glossy, crisp and hardly the vibe it wants to be going for. But, setting aside a terrible cast and poor cinematography, what is most important here is that this film isn't entertaining. It isn't interesting, it falls in line with being another poorly done mob film that was lucky enough to get picked up by a distributor.


Here is the thing, mafia films are more or less dead. This film had a good storyline, locations used gave the film a very convincing feel. You had a mix of very well known names and known names. The rhythm of the film was good as well. It had all the right ingredients for a excellent film. But unfortunately whoever wrote the dialogues and casted people surely didn't consult each other. Most of the very intense moments of the film had long dialogues and the characters playing the roles could not bring any intensity to the situation. And once again a good at heart stuck in the criminal world is not really ideal either. All the old mafia films were good because they went all the way good at heart or not. They generated that feel and compassion that they want to a part of mafia. This is a mafia chick flick at the best. Anyways with some shorter dialogue in hyped up scenes would have done the justice to the talent in the film. Or a better cast with the same dialogues and a bit bold director, who wasn't scared of leaving the good guy routine behind, could have made this film work.Just my opinion.


A young gangster (Nick) achieves his lifetime goal of joining the Mafia and we see the struggle it causes between his family, friends and girlfriend. This is a well acted piece with a nice turn from Harvey Kietal as a crime Boss. Nicks life is complicated by his long term partner in crimes gambling indiscretions and this leads to an explosion of violence where everyone is affected.Downbeat locations and realistic dialogue seem to add a feeling of doom for the Mafia lifestyle that is portrayed as dying out. The film is a bit reminiscent of The Town but on a smaller budget. Well worth the money as a rental but it is unlikely that you will feel the need to rush out and buy the Bluray. An all round solid effort.