The Town – Ben Affleck burgles Boston banks…

the_town_poster2Despite appearing in a collection of incredible stinkers, with Daredevil, Gigli, The Sum of all Fears and Surviving Christmas heading the list, it should be remembered that Ben Affleck was one half of the writing team behind the excellent Good Will Hunting screenplay, and turned in a great performance too.

He was given the opportunity to direct, as well as write and star in, an adaptation of Prince of Thieves by Chuck Hogan (a story that has very little to do with Robin Hood), which was retitled as The Town and provided a showcase of Affleck’s raw movie-making talent.

The Town begins by highlighting the severity of bank robberies in the area of Charlestown, located in Boston. This is followed by a heist on a local bank, orchestrated by Affleck’s career criminal Doug MacRay, along with his lifelong friends Jem Coughlin, Gloansy Magloan, and Dez Elden.

The masked thieves encounter a minor hitch, which results in the kidnapping of bank manager Claire Kessey, who gets blindfolded and dropped off at a nearby beach. After the robbery, MacRay decides to follow Kessey, which leads to a relationship between the two, whilst she is blissfully unaware of his involvement in the robbery and her kidnapping.

Whilst MacRay tries to hide his guilt, and keep his friends from knowing his actions, FBI Special Agent Adam Frawley is behind a concentrated effort to get MacRay and his crew behind bars.

For a heist movie, there is very little in terms of bank theft, but this is a conscious decision by Affleck, and allows time for the impressive characterisation and performances to develop fully. This film really is a clever mixture of action and drama, with startling efforts from all the leads.

Affleck’s MacRay is a man torn between what he knows and his desire to escape his life in Boston, and this is perfectly portrayed by the man behind the script, as well as the camera. The real treat, however, is Jeremy Renner; the Oscar-nominated actor from The Hurt Locker executes a stunning Boston accent (he’s from California), and delivers another Oscar-nominated acting masterclass as MacRay’s closest friend Jem Coughlin. He’s more than a little insane, and actually thinks it might be better if the group find their ex-hostage and kill her.

Performances from Rebecca Hall (Vicky Cristina Barcelona) as Claire Kessey, Jon Hamm as Special Agent Adam Frawley (Mad Men) and Chris Cooper (American Beauty), playing MacRay’s banged-up dad, all deserve special mention, as well as Blake Lively, who puts in a cracking effort as Jem’s sister and MacRay’s ex-girlfriend Krista. Finally, the late, great Pete Postlethwaite is the calm, yet terrifying Fergie, a local crime boss and florist who doesn’t take ‘no’ for an answer.

The action scenes hit all the right heart-thumping beats, and Affleck shows off his versatility by controlling the slower, dialogue-driven moments with the right amount of subtlety and respect required. It’s hard to fault the film, in truth; perhaps there is a little too much of Ben Affleck looking solemn, whilst the plotline is only as intricate as it needs to be, but The Town certainly serves to prove Ben Affleck’s impressive capabilities either side of the camera.

The Town is well-worth visiting!

DVDRental Rating: 8/10

3 Responses to “The Town – Ben Affleck burgles Boston banks…”

  1. Barry Smith says:

    I watched the town recently and I am so glad that I did. I used to hate everything about Ben affleck, but after seeing this, my opinion of him has completely changed. brilliant acting, brilliant direction and brilliantly written. Great review too.

  2. Sarah Newton says:

    I thought this was quite good, but then it seemed to drag on for ages, deffo not a chick flick more of a boys movie

  3. clive bowers says:

    this film is amazing, yes it is very hard to get in to and is very long, but it is soooo worth it.

    and michael caine is in it, what more could you want from a film!

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