Joe Coughlin (Ben Affleck) is a small-time crook, dating a notorious Irish gangster's moll (Sienna Miller). He gets punished for this indiscretion with a beating that leaves him inches from his death, while his beloved girl is reportedly drowned for her folly. After recovering from his wounds, and serving a sentence of just a few years for robbery, Joe joins a rival Italian gang, moves to the south and starts working with Cubans to expand the alcohol trade, while steering clear of drug money. He is instructed to set up a legalised gambling business, which he fails at, because the recovering drug addict daughter (Elle Fanning) of the Sheriff (Chris Cooper) is able to whip the church goers into a frenzy about the evils of gambling - which prevents this from becoming a legal trade. Eventually the enraged Italian mobster makes a deal with the Irish gangster we met at the start, they both come down south to kill Coughlin and to hand the business over to the Italian gangster's son. Of course, Coughlin kills everyone, finds out that Sienna Miller is still alive, has a pointless chat with her and goes back to his Cuban wife (Zoe Saldana), who produces a son, and promptly gets killed in a drive by shooting. The film ends on some half-hearted message about karma.
The film potters clumsily from one scenario to the next, with cringe-worthy dialogue, terrible acting and interminable scenes. There are possibly two or three rare moments of clever writing, which are instantly followed by the characters explaining the joke or the trick in detail (for anyone who has seen the film, think of the 'marked bottles' trick, or the 'Digger' joke, both of which were killed by the moment after you finished smiling).
This film exploits the mediocrity of 'talents' Ben Affleck possesses. Awful writer, check. Terrible director and producer, check (honestly, no one has ever been able to get Chris Cooper to act so badly. EVER). Charmless actor, check (he has a smirk and a frown - that's the sum total of expressions on his wooden face - and he's no Bruce Willis so he can't even make those expressions work to his benefit). Whatever respect he garnered with Argo (2012), he has lost again. Maybe, it was Jennifer GARNER who had turned his life around - and with his baby gone, he's a loser again. Bad joke? Sure. It's a terrible joke. But it's better than any line from the film. So there!
The year is barely 2 weeks old - and this is probably the worst film I'll see all year. AVOID at all costs.