Ben Affleck’s “The Town” delivers


Promotion for The Town touts it as “from the acclaimed director of Gone Baby Gone” which appears to be a deliberate dodge to avoid naming the film’s director – Ben Affleck.  The concern being that if people see that Ben Affleck directed the picture – a guy possibly most famous for his previous relationship with Jennifer Lopez – it won’t be taken seriously.  Given that Affleck has delivered the goods with two films now, maybe his directorial work can come out of the fine print.

A group of robbers from the Boston neighborhood of Charlestown knock over a bank, taking bank manager Claire Keesey (Rebecca Hall) hostage.  Concerned that Claire might have seen something, trigger happy James (Jeremy Renner) wants Doug (Ben Affleck) to follow her movements to ensure they’re in the clear.  When Doug starts seeing Claire, tensions between Doug and his crew flare while FBI agent Frawley (Jon Hamm) steadily builds the pressure.

As a whole this is a good heist film.  It kicks off with tornadic fury and keeps the film moving with other robberies.  Affleck stands out as the nice thief to Renner’s twitchy James who is a territorial pug you do not want to try and pet.  The contrast of these characters’ demeanors  maintains our sympathies for Doug as he tries to leave the neighborhood that got him into the crime business in the first place.

So there are solid elements to the film, but other areas don’t hold well under scrutiny.  Doug’s relationships with James, Claire, his father (Chris Cooper), and his crime boss, Fergie get the flashcard treatment when they deserve paragraphs for even chapters.  These weaker development points are not aided by the film’s abrupt transitions, which feel like a car in need of some transmission work.

And I pray that this was just a problem with my cinema’s sound system, but the sound design was awful!  Boston accented mumblings (where’s the ADR?!) that sometimes lack the proper volume leave question marks above your noggin.  Further, a particularly action packed shoot-out lacked the proper audio punches to the chest that make such scenes thrilling.  If it wasn’t just my specific cinema, then this goes right along side Public Enemy as an unfinished film (thought not with nearly the amount of egregious technical issues of Enemy).

Affleck’s first film Gone Baby Gone was an enthralling drama that made Casey Affleck a believable badass and brought class consciousness to the forefront.  The Town tries to explore some of these same themes (sans Affleck’s younger brother), but isn’t provided the proper time frame to fully accomplish this task.

Despite these complaints, The Town still stacks up as a good action drama – something Affleck can be proud of.

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2 responses to “Ben Affleck’s “The Town” delivers

  1. Pingback: 2010 Staff Picks | The Filmsmith

  2. To each their own, but I disagree with the notion that The Town was a great, or even a good movie. It was rather junky, with mediocre actors at best, the Boston accents, especially on the part of Ben Affleck, were way overdone and somewhat forced, and except for the beginning of the film and the first heist, the car chases and car crashes, not to mention the Fenway Park and North End shoot-out scenes, were totally unrealistic.

    Doug and Claire’s romance is something that this film could’ve done with considerably less of. I lost all sympathy for Claire when she got into a full-scale romance with the Townie bandit’s ringleader, Doug MacRay, fell for his deceitful behavior and his lies, and allowed him to totally exploit her from beginning to end.

    Keeping contact with Doug even after learning of his criminal exploits, lying to the Feds about their relationship, and about knowing anything about what could identify one of Doug’s men, and tipping Doug off to the Feds’ presence in her Charlestown condo apartment when they were on the verge of catching Doug were quite stupid…and wrong. So was Claire’s keeping the stolen money that Doug left for her before skipping town, and spending what wasn’t hers on the renovation of a seedy hockey rink instead of turning that stolen money into the police, at least on an anonymous basis.

    The movie had a very poor ending, too, imho. Claire should’ve kept her mouth shut, let the Feds catch Doug and send him to trial and prison for his crimes, and Claire should’ve been criminally prosecuted herself, or at least put on some sort of probation for abetting an armed felon and wanted fugitive (Doug MacRay), and for receiving stolen goods.

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