Monday, September 20, 2010

Movie Review: The Town

The Town *** ½
Directed by:
Ben Affleck.
Written By: Peter Craig and Ben Affleck & Aaron Stockard based on the novel by Chuck Hogan. Starring: Ben Affleck (Doug MacRay), Rebecca Hall (Claire Keesey), Jon Hamm (FBI S.A. Adam Frawley), Jeremy Renner (James Coughlin), Blake Lively (Krista Coughlin), Slaine (Albert 'Gloansy' Magloan), Owen Burke (Desmond Elden), Titus Welliver (Dino Ciampa), Pete Postlethwaite (Fergus 'Fergie' Colm), Chris Cooper (Stephen MacRay).

Sometimes I think we don’t quite appreciate a perfectly executed genre piece. Ben Affleck’s The Town is a heist movie that really does do nothing all that original. There is nothing here that you haven’t seen in other heist movies - like John Huston’s The Asphalt Jungle, Stanley Kubrick’s The Killing or Michael Mann’s Heat to name but three of the best the grenre has produced. But rarely do you see a genre film that it delivered with this type of skill, both in front of and behind the camera. No, it’s not original. Yes, it’s pretty much a perfect example of the genre it belongs to.

The movie takes place in the Charlestown neighbourhood of Boston, a neighbourhood that apparently produces more armed robbers than anywhere else in the country. One of those crews in led by Doug McCray (Ben Affleck) with the help of his slightly psychotic right hand man James (Jeremy Renner). We see them at work almost right away, robbing a bank with expert proficiency, and taking the bank manager Claire (Rebecca Hall) hostage in case the cops come after them. They don’t, and they let her go, but Doug cannot quite let her go. There is something different about her, and so he arranges to bump into her, and the two begin dating, with her never expecting the truth. Meanwhile, FBI Agent Frawley (Jon Hamm) wants to catch this crew, who is impressed by the professionalism of this crew.

And that’s all I am going to say about the plot of the movie, because one of the joys is to watch this tight thrillers plot slowly unfold. Affleck, who impressed me a great deal with his directorial debut Gone, Baby, Gone three years ago, builds on that one and has made another solid crime drama. Adapting Chuck Hogan’s great novel, Prince of Thieves, Affleck and his co-writers have boiled that big novel down to its essentials and has made a tightly plotted, exciting movie highlighted by great performances. Affleck himself has rarely been better as an actor than he is here as McCray, the thief who wants to leave it all behind. In Rebecca Hall, he has found a sympathetic female lead - one that it is not hard to believe that he would be able to leave everything for. Jon Hamm is solid as the straight arrow FBI agent, and Pete Postlewaite and Chris Cooper provide what are essentially cameo roles, but make them memorable. Best of all is Jeremy Renner, who exudes danger as his right hand man with a short fuse. And Blake Lively is also impressive as Affleck’s white trash ex - leaving behind any memories you may have of her is Gossip Girl. Whenever that show is over, she’s going to have a real career as an actress.
The Town doesn’t break any new ground as a heist movie. It doesn’t quite rise to the level of Heat - Michael Mann’s masterpiece that is an obvious influence on this film. But then again, so few movies even come close to that film. I can’t think of any higher praise than to say that this film at least deserves comparison to that one. Ben Affleck has proven once again that he is a real filmmaker. I look forward to seeing what he decides to do next behind the camera. I guarantee you he has a masterpiece or two in him.

1 comment:

  1. This movie has been made on big plot. I have seen some shooting of this film as this movie takes place in the Charlestown neighbourhood of Boston.