Starring: Ben Affleck, Jon Hamm, Rebecca Hall, Jeremy Renner, Blake Lively, Chris Cooper, Slaine, Titus Welliver, Pete Postlethwaite, Owen Burke, and Christopher Norman, Jr.
Directed by: Ben Affleck.
Released: September 17th, 2010.
The Town is an example of superb directing, which in this case is done by the film’s lead star himself, Ben Affleck. Once again, he proves himself worthy just as he did with Gone Baby Gone a few years back. The Town follows a four-man crew of next generation bank robbers in the Boston region of Charlestown, which we are informed to be the crime central of America. Doug MacRay (Ben Affleck) leads the group with front man James “Jem Coughlin (Jeremy Renner), and two other members, Desmond “Dez” Elden (Owen Burke) and Albert “Gloansy” Magloan (Slaine). These four lifelong friends are very meticulous and professional when it comes to executing these robberies. Eliminating DNA traces by all means and even robbing the facility’s security tapes, it would definitely seem like these guys know their stuff. That is until one of them decides to take a romantic interest in a woman they had previously abducted during a robbery.
During the opening sequence, we are treated to our first robbery at a bank in which bank manager Claire Keesey (Rebecca Hall) works at. MacRay and his team are dressed as creepy skeletor figures with black hoods and cloaks as they take over the scene. Loose cannon Jem doesn’t know when to not hurt civilians and even puts the group in more jeopardy when he decides to take Claire as a temporary insurance policy. However, Doug releases her unharmed and blindfolded at a beach several miles away. Following the incident, while FBI Agent Adam Frawley (Jon Hamm) and his team begin their investigation, Jem begins to get paranoid about what he did when he discovers that Claire actually lives in the area and Doug decides to follow her around.
At this point, Doug begins to take an interest in her romantically, following her to a laundromat where their first meeting takes place and it does so in a scene so expertly shot and written, it makes you want to stand up and clap. From here on out, the two get to know each other and the film gets down to its core point: Claire exposing Doug’s mind to the joys of life and all that it has to offer, the very crucial things which he was denied during his upbringing. This is what causes Doug to slowly attempt to drift away from his life of crime throughout the rest of the film. The Town rides a fine line between Heat and The Departed, featuring three neatly filmed robbery sequences in which our robbers are dressed as creepy skeletor figures, then as nuns, and finally, as policemen and EMTs. Throughout the course of the film, the grips of Agent Frawley and the FBI tighten as the conclusion nears and you can feel it too. These guys have a rough sketch of who they’re after but they need the concrete evidence required to act upon it.
Ben Affleck depicts a newfound muse for directing in The Town which throws so many suspenseful scenes at us that we are encouraged to participate. One particularly when Jem unexpectedly joins Doug and Claire at a lunch table, he didn’t know they were seeing each other up to that point, but meanwhile Claire recalls one of the robbers having a tattoo on the back of his neck (Jem), God forbid she sees the back of this guy’s neck. Doug is anxious and so are we, he wants this guy to get away from the table and so do we, but of course he wants to be a hard-head and not listen. Lesson learned? If you plan on robbing banks or committing any type of crime, don’t ever get a tattoo. Anyway, point being, the anxiety within many of the film’s scenes is unrelenting, and that’s how you know the director is doing something right here. In today’s cinema, The Town is a gemstone in a pile of feces.