To say that The Town is everything Takers tried to be and failed at would actually be an insult to Ben Affleck's latest film. Mentioning that bland rehashing in the same breath would imply they even exist on the same plane, but the honest truth is this gritty Boston crime drama is something special and the best film of the early fall season.
Affleck's first foray into directing with the Dennis Lehane adaptation Gone Baby Gone shocked viewers and the critical community in kind, showing that a fading acting career does not mean one is down-and-out in Hollywood. Affleck marries his two passions in The Town, directing, producing and writing the film as well as starring in the lead role, his first since 2003's Paycheck. He owns this comeback performance, successfully wiping any lingering distaste from duds like Daredevil or Gigli. This is by no means a one-man show, but The Town has nothing close to a weak link, in fact, this may be one of the finest pieces of ensemble acting in years.
Joining Affleck in a supporting role is Jeremy Renner, fresh off his best actor Oscar nomination for The Hurt Locker and he beyond a doubt proves he is no one-hit wonder. This is Oscar-worthy acting yet again for Renner, nailing his Boston accent along with his loose-cannon mentality. He is terrifying, but impossible to pry your eyes away from. The most shocking revelation comes from Blake Lively (TV's "Gossip Girl") as a doped-up mother with more than a few issues. She is not only unrecognizable, but owns her role, never calling attention to her drastic deviation from type. Substantial buzz was also placed in the way of John Hamm from the acclaimed television drama Mad Men. He is sufficiently pompous as a dedicated FBI agent also scoring a number of the films laughs.
Before I wander too much further into specifics, the characters in The Town populate a Boston suburb called Charlestown, which an introductory message informs us, is the world-center for bank robbers. Affleck's Doug MacRay heads a team of those in such a profession including Renner as James Coughlin and two others played by Slaine, and Owen Burke. During one of their routine bank heists, they are forced to take a hostage (Rebecca Hall) during their hasty escape. Afterwards, to make sure she does not know anything incriminating following her release from captivity, MacRay follows her and inadvertently falls for her in the process.
There is nothing particularly revelatory about The Town, there are few surprises or much that deviates from a standard crime drama. But Affleck directs with such skill and confidence while showcasing yet another peek into suburban Boston that it is never less than riveting. There is an overlying sense of impeding dread that perforates The Town and a handful of sensational action sequences do little to let up the firm grasp the film has on our windpipes. Propelled by faultless acting and a pitch- perfect script, this slice of the Boston criminal underworld is everything for which we could have hoped following such a bland summer. Affleck has always been a star, and if he continues to produce films of this pedigree, then there might be hope for the movies yet.
Crime / Drama
Crime / Drama
The Charlestown neighborhood of Boston is renowned for churning out a high number of armed robbers, generation after generation. These robbers never leave their Charlestown life on their own volition, the neighborhood where there is an unwritten code to protect that lifestyle. Such robbers include friends Doug MacRay, James Coughlin, Albert 'Gloansy' Magloan and Desmond Elden. Doug and James in particular treat each other like family, as the Coughlins have realistically been as such to Doug since Doug's mother ran off and Doug's father, Stephen MacRay, was sent to prison. James' single mother sister, the drugged out Krista Coughlin, and Doug have a casual sexual relationship. The foursome carry out a mostly successful bank robbery, but due to circumstances take the bank manager, Claire Keesey, hostage for a short period before releasing her physically unharmed. They find out that Claire lives in Charlestown, so they want to ensure that she did not see anything that could incriminate them if they were to ever run into her. As such, Doug begins a personal relationship with her to find out what she knows and what she's told the police and the FBI, who have taken charge of the investigation. He learns that she has kept some information from the authorities for her own protection but information that could identify James in particular. But Doug slowly falls for her, as she does for him. Ultimately, Doug dreams about leaving his Charlestown life to be with Claire anywhere but there. But Doug has to try and keep his true identity from her, and keep the fact that he is seeing her from his colleagues. But leaving is not as easy as he would like as he and the gang are tasked with a big job by a local gangster named Fergie whether Doug likes it or not. And Adam Frawley, the FBI's lead investigator, comes into evidence that links the foursome to the bank robbery and a subsequent armored car heist, so is on their tail for evidence that will send them away dead or alive.
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May 20, 2012 at 7:09 am