The Town is Ben Affleck’s second directorial feature, following the critically acclaimed Gone Baby Gone. While it doesn’t quite live up to the standard set by that film (one of my favorites of 2007), The Town is well-written, well-acted, and one of the most solid crime dramas to come out in the past few years.
Ben Affleck is really starting to impress me these days. Let’s face it, the guy has been in some real stinkers over the years (Reindeer Games anyone?). But with The Town, he proves that he’s a jack of all trades. And a very talented one at that. Affleck directed, starred and co-wrote the screenplay for The Town. What I appreciate most about Affleck’s direction is that he isn’t flashy. He has a vision, and he executes it without the help of camera tricks or CGI. He’s no Terrence Mallick, and he doesn’t try to be. His style is gritty, in-your-face, and real. The guy is a real actor’s director, and it shows in the performances. Affleck himself turns in one of the better performances of his career (Daniel Day Lewis he is not, but he’s great to watch here). Jon Hamm, who you probably know as Don Draper from the AMC series Mad Men, is fantastic as the gung-ho FBI investigator hell-bent on bringing in the illusive and notorious thieves whom the movie follows. Rebecca Hall plays the love interest of Affleck’s character, and she plays the part with a subtle emotional depth that really impressed me. Jeremy Renner (The Hurt Locker) is the only weak link in the chain. His Boston accent is awful, and it just seems like he’s trying too hard. The guy just kind of sucks in general.
The film follows a crew of bank-robbers from Charlestown, the infamous suburb of Boston that has churned out more bank-robbers than any place in the world. The screenplay is intelligent and a real thrill to watch play out on the screen. The dialogue in this film is superb, and completely devoid of cringe-worthy lines. The interactions between characters feel real, which is another testament to how strong the cast is. There are however a few holes in the plot. Without spoiling anything, there is a scene in particular where the crew escape a shoot-out disguised as cops. But the police knew about their plan beforehand, and you would think they would have been briefed on the suspects. There is no way they could have gotten past an army of cops without somebody recognizing them immediately. There are a few other minor missteps like that, but nothing that really brings down the experience.
(I’m going to go on a bit of a tangent here. While The Town is certainly a well-done crime drama, I want to take this opportunity to promote Un Prophete. It’s a French prison film that came out in 2009, and is absolutely must-see cinema. It’s one of the best films of its kind, and I would go as far as to say it is one of the best movies I’ve ever seen.)
I feel like the trailer spoils too much of the plot, so if you haven’t seen it just skip it altogether and watch the movie. It may not be as good as Gone Baby Gone, but The Town fires on all cylinders. It certainly won’t blow you away, but this is a movie you probably shouldn’t miss.
4/5 bad Boston accents