Rating: MA 15+
Running Time: 127 minutes
Release Date: 14 October 2010
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The Town sees the return of “jack of all trades” Ben Affleck to the writing, directing and starring trifecta in this crime drama flick. Adapted from the novel Prince of Thieves by Chuck Hogan, Affleck had assistance with the screen adaptation from Peter Craig and Aaron Stockard.
Based in Boston, Massachusetts, career criminals Doug MacRay (Affleck) and Jim “Jem” Coughlin (Jeremy Renner) growing up in seedy suburban Charlestown, team up to rob the Cambridge Bank and end up taking Bank Manager Claire Keesey (Rebecca Hall) hostage. Escaping safely they release her acquire her driver’s license so they can keep her under surveillance in case she becomes a liability. Doug the mastermind behind the heist starts following Claire and after striking up a conversation at the laundrette, they end up dating. FBI Agent Adam Frawley (Jon Hamm) assigned to the case targets Doug and Jem as suspects along with team members Albert “Gloansy” Magloan (Slaine) and Desmond “Dez” Elden (Owen Burke). However without any solid evidence, Agent Frawley is out to find and pressure the weakest link into offering crucial information, such as Jem’s sister and Doug’s ex-girlfriend Krista (Blake Lively).
This is an engaging story as we learn of Doug’s fall from grace as an ice hockey player, the loss of his mother at an early age and then the incarceration of his father (Chris Cooper) which forced him to rely on the crime ridden Coughlin family and local Irish mafia boss Fergie the Florist (Pete Postlethwaite) for support. Affleck has returned from the movie wasteland over the last few years which has seen him in only small bit cameo roles, despite his acclaimed directorial debut in Gone Baby Gone. In this well crafted and directed story we are draw us into Doug’s web and like him we fight to try and break free from Charlestown and his doomed existence. The action sequences and car chases are brilliantly directed leaving you on the edge of your seat. However there are also nice changes of pace but the undercurrent of tension runs through the whole film never sure of how it will exactly evolve but hoping that it will turn out favourably, even if you normally hate clichéd happy Hollywood endings. There are a few minor plot problems but it had such a gripping story that you were content to let these things slide.
Affleck in my opinion is a better writer/director than actor but he actually displays a believable performance, probably as he is in control of his dialogue and feels at one with the creative process. Renner (The Hurt Locker) is well cast as his intense and volatile offsider. Blake Lively (Gossip Girl) is surprisingly effective in her small part as single mother and drug junkie mule, it is a far cry from her lightweight GG persona. As is Rebecca Hall (Frost/Nixon), Pete Postlethwaite (Inception) and Jon Hamm (Mad Men) as the hard nosed FBI agent.