The Town (2010) – Review

4 Stars

Ben Affleck’s second directorial effort The Town is another gritty tale of violence and classism centered in Boston. Much like his debut film Gone Baby Gone the actor/director displays a sure hand behind the camera erasing any doubts that he may have been a one trick pony. Chronicling the Irish pride and segregated nature of Bean-town through the knowing eyes of a local is what gives the film a very high feeling of authenticity. Even the leads seem as if they have dialed down their attractiveness to fit in with the hard living lower class peoples they are portraying. Affleck is the quiet anchor of the picture playing a failed hockey star now relegated to bank heists to support himself. The flashy role goes to spark plug Jeremy Renner who is absolutely riveting as the hot-headed best friend that is prone to violent outburst. It’s Renner’s idea to kidnap the female bank teller (Rebecca Hall) during the latest heist as collateral in their escape. Once the gang has released the hostage they realize the girl is a local and she may be working with the FBI. Affleck assigns himself the role of following her around which turns unexpectedly into a love affair based on a series of lies.

Centering a story around characters that are victims of circumstance and environment are a common theme in these type of urban action/dramas. Rarely are they very good yet Affleck and his co-writers Peter Craig and Aaron Stockard have adapted the source novel Prince of Thieves by author Chuck Hogan into a taunt series of tension filled sequences ripe with intelligent dialogue and unexpected developments. A beautifully melancholy score from composers David Buckley and Harry Gregson-Williams underscore the hardships and hard truths they very interesting characters are forced to face. A monologue delivered with pitch perfect precision by Affleck about the disappearance of his mother is a gem and should be studied in acting classes from here forth. Blake Lively is also playing against type as a local girl once sweet on Affleck’s character but now stuck

At 125 min. The Town feels a bit long yet not unfocused, if it were any shorter the whole enterprise may have collapsed under the weight of the script. This is a complex tale that plays its hands close to the chest. It takes time to develop its intricate relationships and well choreographed bank robberies and shoot outs. Some critics have been dismissive of the film referring to it as derivative of Michael Mann’s Heat or Scorsese’s The Departed; I say if Mann and Scorsese are your inspirations then you are doing all right. The Town is an outstanding achievement for Affleck in both the acting and directing categories. One of the best films of 2010.

Director: Ben Affleck
Stars: Ben Affleck, Rebecca Hall, Jon Hamm

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