Sep 2010 16

Ben Affleck’s second directorial effort is as strong as his first, Gone Baby Gone, and is a very good crime/bank robbery movie that is tough to complain about.

The film follows Doug MacRay, a bank robber, and his team as they run through a series of jobs which lead to Doug wanting to finally get out.  A former hockey protégé, Doug, turned to his father foot steps after he couldn’t make the squad; unfortunately his father was a crook and Doug begins working for his dad’s old boss, “Fergie the Florist.”  It’s on a recent job though that Doug falls for a hostage that they take and riskily enters into a relationship with her.  Added to this, the F.B.I. is coming after him as well and only needs some strong evidence to finally lock Doug and his gang up.

Now, I am not ready to say the film is better than Affleck’s Gone Baby Gone but the film is very good.  The film is a bit more mainstream and formulaic than GBG, but the film never falters and is supported by a strong cast.  The bank robberies are really great action beats, the pacing is sharp, and the film has a nice balance of humor with the drama.  In fact, the films final act takes things to a famous Boston landmark in which I never thought I would see integrated into a film in such a way.

I do wish the film would have gone a bit deeper into both sides of the world though, the cops and the robbers, but as it stands the film is extremely entertaining.  For a second there I thought the FBI side of things was going to tap into The Wire for inspiration but it sadly remains very surface and doesn’t go into as much investigative depth as one would have liked.  This is a minor complaint though as Jon Hamm and Titus Welliver do a nice job of representing the cops side of things, it just would have been an added bonus to dive a little deeper than that.  Same goes for the robbers side of things, they touch on this crime network underground in Boston but never dive in and while that is fine, I was intrigued to know more.  These complaints are minor quibbles and one of the few things I think the film could have done to be something a bit more.

Ben Affleck also stars in this film and he does a fine job as usual and is charismatic and likable as our anti-hero.  The book the film is based on is title Prince of Thieves and I think that would be a more fitting title for the movie.  Affleck’s Doug is a charming “good guy” that kind of falls into the wrong line of work.  He also can be quite the prince with the ladies it seems and the title fits the tone of the film better.  The romance between Affleck and Rebecca Hall is a large chunk of the film and it works between the two but I can’t help but think there could have been a bit more spark between the two.  Regardless of the average spark, Hall is good as the bank manager swept up by her own robber and she is proving time and time again how good she can be.  Jon Hamm makes his first big time appearance in a feature film as the FBI agent tracking Affleck and he does a fine job.  Sure the character isn’t as deep as his Don Draper, but he is charming and smug as he tracks down Affleck and his gang.  The other big role in the film belongs to Jeremy Renner as the hot head bank robber who gets the guys into a bit of trouble and Renner, like everyone else, is solid.

In the end, The Town is a solid crime/bank robber movie that is bolstered by a strong cast and a solid story.  The film is missing that certain something to take it to greatness but still stands as an entertaining as hell ride to enjoy.  Full of great acting, intense action, and enough surprises to keep you guessing the film won’t disappoint, I just feel like it could have been a tad bit something more.  Oh well, Affleck has proven again he is great both in front and behind the camera and I can’t wait to see what he does next.

The Town is a B+


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