Movie review – The Town
Directed by Ben Affleck
Starring Ben Affleck, Jeremy Renner, Rebecca Hall
Ben Affleck has made a strong case for himself as a talent worth watching out for. The Town, his second feature film as a director, demonstrates that 2007’s phenomenal Gone Baby Gone was not a fluke. While this new film doesn’t go anywhere that we haven’t been before, it’s well worth seeing for its exciting action scenes and fine performances.
The Town is an action crime drama that focuses on a group of bank robbers from Charlestown, an area of Boston, MA that produces more armed robbers than any other in America. In Charlestown, robbery is a trade passed from father to son.
Affleck plays one such son. His character, Doug MacRay, is the brain behind a four-man team of criminals who have robbed numerous banks and armoured cars. After his best friend Jim (Jeremy Renner) strays from the plan by taking a hostage (Rebecca Hall) during a robbery, the gang’s lives get a lot more complicated. Doug finds himself in a relationship with the hostage, looking for a way out of the criminal life. Meanwhile, an FBI agent (Jon Hamm) is closing in on them fast.
The plot is fairly unremarkable for the genre, but Affleck seems to have a great directorial sense of how to let the casting and especially the setting inform the feel of the film. Charlestown itself is a character, from the bar the boys hang out in to the decrepit apartment building where they live to the old hockey rink that can’t even afford ice. When Doug goes to visit his incarcerated father, played briefly but powerfully by Chris Cooper, the establishing shots of the prison yard feel a lot like Charlestown itself. It’s easy to understand Doug’s desire to change his life and escape the place that has always been his home.
When the credits rolled at the end of the film, a woman sitting behind me in the theatre was audibly shocked to learn it had been directed by Ben Affleck. In the ad campaign for the movie, it is billed as, “from the acclaimed director of Gone Baby Gone,” but no mention is made of Affleck himself. It seems that the studio is worried Affleck’s name will cast a shadow on the film. If he continues to make films this good, they will start putting his name on them soon.
Sean Trembath, Contributor