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3 reviews, 24 user ratings

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Town, The
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by Mel Valentin

"Less, far less, than the sum of its crime drama parts."
3 stars

Complete review too come.As an actor, Ben Affleck has been criticized, often correctly, for giving one lackluster, uninspired performance after another. Behind the camera, however, Affleck has written one Oscar-winning screenplay, "Good Will Hunting," with longtime friend and writing partner Matt Damon, and written and directed another, "Gone Baby Gone," an adaptation of Dennis Lehane’s ("Shutter Island," "Mystic River") Boston-set crime drama that received its share of accolades. Affleck’s back with another crime drama set in Boston, "The Town," this time based on Chuck Hogan’s 2007 novel, "Prince of Thieves." Less twist-heavy than "Gone Baby Gone," "The Town" is an all-around well-crafted crime drama that fails to rise above its crime fiction clichés.

Set in and around Charleston (a Boston neighborhood), The Town is centered on Doug MacRay (Ben Affleck), a career bank robber. MacRay runs a tightly efficient crew that includes James Coughlin (Jeremy Renner), Albert "Gloansy" Magloan (Slaine), and Desmond "Dez" Elden (Owen Burke). MacRay prefers to use violence only when necessary, in part due to a moral code, but also to minimize police pursuit. Coughlin (Jeremy Renner), however, doesn’t share MacRay's reluctance. He gets pleasure from using violence to control a bank's employees and customers. To guarantee his crew escapes with minimal interference, MacRay kidnaps the bank’s assistant bank manager, Claire Keesey (Rebecca Hall). It does and MacRay laves Claire blindfolded and terrified by the water's edge.

MacRay, however, can’t escape the attention of an FBI task force led by Adam Frawley (Jon Hamm). Unaware of MacRay’s direct involvement, Frawley wants to stop the bank robberies by any means necessary. He presses a still traumatized Claire to revisit the bank robbery and her subsequent kidnapping for any clue that might help Frawley uncover their identities. Coughlin, suspecting Claire saw or heard something that might implicate them, pushes MacRay to do something about Claire. MacRay sets up a “meets cute” scene inside a Laundromat, but what starts as a recon mission turns into a romance, with MacRay initially refusing to acknowledge his feelings for Claire (to himself and his crew).

The Town turns on the overused “one last job” crime genre trope. MacRay, restless and unhappy with his life before he meets Claire, finds a reason (in Claire) to give up the life as a bank robber. Of course, Claire’s unaware of MacRay’s involvement in the bank heist that left her emotionally traumatized. Coughlin, however, resists, refusing to accept an alternative to life (or death) as a career criminal. MacRay’s boss in the criminal underworld, Fergus 'Fergie' Colm (Pete Postlethwaite), also refuses to acquiesce, as does Coughlin’s sister and MacRay’s former girlfriend, Krista (Blake Lively). As Frawley gets closer to MacRay, that “one last job” looms ever closer, setting up a running gun battle that provides The Town with its third and best action sequence.

In a move that probably won’t surprise anyone, Affleck departs from the ending Hogan gave Prince of Thieves. It’s a major letdown, a reversal that feels forced and false (because it’s both). In other respects, Affleck sticks closely to Hogan’s novel, an understandable choice on one level (since Affleck picked the novel to adapt), but disappointing on another (because it follows every familiar crime genre trope). For example, Coughlin functions as the wild card, as the (presumably) doomed character likely to scuttle MacRay’s minutely developed plans. Frawley exists as MacRay’s mirror image. He’s as driven and obsessed with stopping the epidemic of bank robberies hitting the Boston area (supposedly based on actual events in Boston, but subsequently cast into doubt). The other wild card, Coughlin’s sister, seems superfluous, but she exists as a hindrance (and a reason to leave Boston) for MacRay.

The romantic relationship between MacRay and Claire, based on a lie, thus creating the expectation that it’ll be exposed, develops with little (actually) no imagination or originality. When the revelation of MacRay’s profession comes (and no, that’s not a spoiler), it feels rote (because it is). Worse, it feels underwritten (again, because it is). It only becomes persuasive and convincing due to Hall and Affleck’s performances. Hall, a British-born and trained actress, isn’t a surprise. Affleck, however, is. Maybe it’s because he wrote and directed "The Town;" maybe it’s because he’s back where he spent his formative years, but whatever the reason, Affleck gives one of his best performances (second, perhaps, to "Changing Lanes." Hopefully his next project as writer-director will involve a project that relies less on familiar genre tropes and more on original twists on those tropes (or something new altogether).

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=19533&reviewer=402
originally posted: 09/17/10 09:00:00
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2010 Toronto International Film Festival For more in the 2010 Toronto International Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 67th Venice International Film Festival For more in the 67th Venice International Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

9/12/17 morris campbell a solid crime film 4 stars
9/16/12 Eric Stevens Well made-worthwhile-excellent action-not Pacino/Deniro 'Heat' great perhaps oversympathic 4 stars
2/14/12 M. a cheesy, overrated piece of junk 1 stars
9/04/11 RLan This movie screems average! It's ok, but nothing special. 3 stars
7/08/11 M. The Town could've done with less of Claire & Doug's romance, which seemed very adolescent. 2 stars
6/14/11 M. Fell short of potential due to excessive editing and overblown scenes. 2 stars
5/10/11 R.W. Welch C+ cops and robbers flick. Feels a bit contrived. 3 stars
2/25/11 millersxing a combustible crime drama under potent direction 4 stars
1/23/11 bill norris great story awesome acting, great 5 stars
1/23/11 mr,mike It's good. Damn good. Great job by Affleck. 4 stars
1/16/11 Simon Well-done all-around, but limited in message, doesn't quite transcend like the great ones 4 stars
12/21/10 Sean M One of the finest examples of genre filmmaking you will ever see. 5 stars
12/19/10 action movie fan very good heat like gnag of roobers action thriller-one of 2010,s better movies 4 stars
12/05/10 David A. not a bad crime drama 4 stars
11/02/10 damalc excellent, except for making the killer/bank robber/kidnapper a sympathetic character 4 stars
10/28/10 Kim Kelly Usually not a fan of this genre or the profanity, but it was intense. Worth viewing. 5 stars
10/15/10 Robert Smith Solid effort and product; very entertaining in its base utility, much like a Buck knife. 4 stars
10/15/10 kaz gritty,tense &thrilling.. 4 stars
10/11/10 raider eh ben affleck ehh 1 stars
10/02/10 Jizz I didn't know Affleck could actually act, much less direct a competent movie. 4 stars
9/30/10 The GLC smoke a big fatty before you hit up this tight flick. 5 stars
9/19/10 Drew An entertaining movie, but the ending could be better 3 stars
9/18/10 Flounder Affleck humanizes his characters and provides plenty of thrills. A superlative effort 5 stars
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  17-Sep-2010 (R)
  DVD: 17-Dec-2010


  DVD: 17-Dec-2010

Directed by
  Ben Affleck

Written by
  Ben Affleck
  Sheldon Turner

  Ben Affleck
  Jeremy Renner
  Jon Hamm
  Rebecca Hall

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