See it with someone whose brains you want to unspool.
Ben Affleck is a great Nick because he’s Ben Affleck. All the things people say they hate about Ben Affleck’s acting make him the perfect Nick. They’ll claim he’s just being himself, or tapping into the inner Nick that his hate-fans have seen in everything from Pearl Harbor to Argo. And his love-fans will rush to his defense, and in the end it really doesn’t matter because what he’s doing, either consciously or unconsciously, works for the character. Except he’s all buff. Not buff like a New York magazine writer, but buff like somebody who’s secretly a superhero (oh; right).
Rosamund Pike is a great Amy because nobody knows who she is. Unless you remember her as the Bad Bond Girl from Die Another Day, the pretty sister in the Keira Knightley Pride & Prejudice, Andromeda in the Clash Of The Titans sequel, I-forget-who in An Education, the girl in Reacher, and the girl in The World’s End. In which case you’ve been waiting for her to hit it big for a good ten years now.
Rosamund Pike is so obviously overdubbed it sounds like it might be someone else’s voice. Seriously. For half the movie, her vocal timbre screams SOUND BOOTH. Whoever was in charge of ADR for this movie (there are three mixers, one looper and one editor—Gwendolyn Yates Whittle—in the credits) deserves a Razzie nomination.
Drawbacks for those who have read the book. Two, for me anyway. The book goes into great detail about Amy and Nick’s personal histories, which makes them more then just caricatures. The movie doesn’t—Nick’s Dad makes only one brief appearance, and Amy’s folks are bland and forgettable. And one story of friend-revenge is eliminated, leaving only a history of lover revenge, which turns a character trait into a sexual trait. That bugged me.
The ending is the same as the book. Me, I didn’t have a problem with it in the book, or the movie, mostly because I saw it as a homage to the kind of ending Jim Thompson would have given these characters. But I also understand why the ending pissed a lot of people off. (And we can have a spoiler-unfree conversation about this whenever you like.)
It’s a roller coaster ride. Even more than the book, the twists and turns come so fast that the film feels like an edited-for-theatres version of a ten-episode HBO series with a twist at the end of every episode.
And it’s really really funny. All kinds of funny: clever funny, crude funny (the wood line), sick funny, over-the-top funny, and (best of all) Tyler Perry funny.