Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Town

Directed by Ben Affleck.
2010. Rated R, 125 minutes.
Ben Affleck
Jeremy Renner
Rebecca Hall
Jon Hamm
Blake Lively
Peter Postlethwaite
Titus Welliver

Doug MacRay (Affleck) and his boys rob a bank in their hometown of Charlestown, MA. As a warning, we’ve already been told this Boston-area city produces more bank and armored car robbers than anywhere in the world. Anyhoo, as things develop quickly, part of their getaway involves taking one of the bank’s managers hostage. Since they’re not completely evil and were wearing masks, they decide to let her out, blindfolded, at the beach. Our gang keeps her drivers license as a little insurance. When they finally bother to look at her license the next day, they discover she live right in their neighborhood. Doug takes it upon himself to follow her around and make sure she can’t give any useful information to the cops. Very unwisely, he starts courting the shaken would be witness and the two begin to fall madly in love.

These events set up an intriguing game of cat-and-mouse that is, at times, reminiscent of Michael Mann’s classic Heat. Don’t worry, this does plenty of its own thing and is outstanding in its own right. The storytelling is fascinating and the robbery scenes are intense. It also builds relationships that have grown from simple roots, but become more complicated as time goes on. The first is obviously of Doug and James (Renner), his partner-in-crime. Helping it be that is Renner as James. His and Affleck’s characters are like brothers, but actually aren’t. Each has selfish motives but needs the other. Like he was in The Hurt Locker, Renner is simply fantastic in his role.

Three other subplots are done just as well. There’s the cop procedural element. Here is where it most resembles Heat. The police learn who the bad guys are rather quickly. They just have to figure out how to catch them. Then, there is our gang’s working relationship with “The Florist” (Postletwaite). Finally, we have Doug’s relationship with his dad who’s been incarcerated for many years.

All of these things combine to make The Town a excellent experience. It is a crime drama through and through, a fantastic one at that. Kudos goes to Affleck, who steered the ship. With this, and Gone Baby Gone from a couple years ago, he’s establishing himself as an outstanding director.

MY SCORE: 8/10

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