Ben Affleck continues to make viewers re-evaluate just where he stands in the industry, with a wonderfully directed drama/action movie, The Town.
Charlestown, Boston has the highest rate of bank robberies in the world, or so we’re told. In fact, more often than not, it’s a family business. Doug MacRay (Affleck) belongs to one such family, and as the opening bank robbery lets us know, these guys are pretty darn good at breaking the law. The assistant bank manager, Claire Keesey (Rebecca Hall) is taken as a hostage, and whilst she is soon set free, she becomes a loose end that Doug and his pals begin to worry about.
First and foremost, this is a brilliantly directed film. Almost every scene makes a stunningly emotional impact, yet no moment ever becomes overblown. There is wonderful restraint shown here, which proves that Affleck definitely wasn’t a one hit wonder with Gone Baby Gone. The action is well handled, too. Such scenes are shot perfectly, and this makes me think that whilst Reindeer Games was a dog of a film, perhaps director John Frankenheimer (who also helmed Ronin) gave Affleck some tips on how to shoot a great car chase, because the one in the middle of The Town is fantastic.
This is one of those films that really has a sense of place. Of course, I have no idea if this is what living in downtown Boston is really like, but The Town evokes a living, breathing city. This depiction of Boston is up there with the recreation of Baltimore as seen in ‘The Wire’ – we truly get to understand these people and the roles they play in the community.
As a performer, Affleck also impresses. This is on par with his great performances (think Good Will Hunting and Chasing Amy instead of Daredevil), and he seems to have no problem directing himself. Jeremy Renner is strong also, as Doug’s partner in crime, James Coughlin. Hall is great as Claire, though perhaps her character is written as a little too trusting (one might say desperate). There are strong bit performances from Pete Postlethwaite and Chris Cooper also.
The Town doesn’t manage to maintain such a high standard for its entire running time. By the end of the climax, the narrative starts to feel a bit sloppy, and it’s a pity because what came before kept such a perfect pace. The dénouement stretched credibility also, leaving me feeling uneasy rather than satisfied.
Overall, however, The Town is a great heist flick. It features some of the most thrilling bank robberies of recent years, as well as some superbly directed action and drama.Rating: