The Town (2010)

The Town (2010) — While not on the same level as his debut Gone Baby Gone, The Town proves that Ben Affleck really seems to know what he’s doing as a director.  He got massively overexposed in the late 90s/early 2000s and did just about anything for a paycheck (including a movie called Paycheck) but people forget the dude has some talent.  The Town contributes to the long line of films that have painted Boston as a crime-ridden cesspool of indecency.  It even uses a questionable statistic that claims Charlestown as the “bank robbery capital of the world.”  Affleck plays Doug, the head of a crew that includes his buddy Jem (Jeremy Renner) and two other dudes who don’t really do much.  After their last heist results in the kidnapping of a bank manager (Rebecca Hall), Doug checks in on her afterwards to see what she knows (they all had masks so she didn’t see their faces).  Naturally, they end up in a relationship and Doug begins to question if the criminal life is for him.  Making it hard to quit are Jem, florist/mobster Fergie (Pete Postlethwaite), and a couple of FBI agents (Jon Hamm and Titus Welliver).  The Town opts to focus on character which makes some sections of the movie drag a bit.  Character development is a good thing, especially with a cast this good, but the opening scene (as well as a couple of later ones) sets the action pretty high so the film seems to slow down during less dynamic scenes of conversation.  Renner plays Jem like a land mine, ready to go off any minute so pretty much every scene with him is good.  Blake Lively plays Jem’s sister who is one scene early on and then disappears for most of the movie before becoming important towards the end.  It felt like her character was forgotten about for a while until the screenwriters needed to bring her back.  All in all, like in most actor-directed films, the cast performs very well but The Town has a couple of issues with story and pacing.  The end doesn’t feel entirely earned and it’s one of those movies where the criminal is the good guy and the Fed is the bad guy even though Doug isn’t an especially noble criminal and Hamm’s character isn’t a particularly crooked Fed.  I do think The Town is a good movie worth seeing, but mostly it just makes me intrigued what Affleck has next on his plate, directorially speaking.

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