Sunday, October 9, 2011

The Town

By s. Sunday, October 9, 2011 , , , , , , , ,
(125 min, 2010)
Director: Ben Affleck
Writers: Peter Craig (screenplay), Ben Affleck (screenplay)
Stars: Ben Affleck, Rebecca Hall and Jon Hamm

Sunny day marks trouble.

There are over 300 bank robberies in Boston every year. And most of the professionals live in a one-square-mile neighborhood called Charlestown. One of them is Doug MacRay. The only family Doug has are his partners in crime, especially Jem, who is the closest thing Doug ever had to a brother. However, everything changed on the gang's last job when Jem briefly took a hostage: bank manager Claire Keesey. When they discover Claire lives in Charlestown, Jem gets nervous and wants to check out what she might have seen. Knowing what Jem is capable of, Doug takes charge. He seeks out Claire, who has no idea that their encounter is not by chance or that this charming stranger is one of the men who terrorized her only days before. As his relationship with Claire deepens into a passionate romance, Doug wants out of this life and the town.

The movie is very effective crime thriller but sadly nothing more. It's wonderfully executed, contains fantastic cast and the most impressive heist/shootout scenes since “Heat” (to which it's almost strikingly similar at times). In fact those scenes, long, thrilling and engaging make the rest of the movie, especially love story look a bit silly. I felt that the inclusion of cliché romance arc actually cheapened what could have been a truly great film.

We understand why hurt and vulnerable Claire falls for Doug, but when it comes to him, so little is done with his character development, that we just have to take words for what he feels, instead of actually seeing it on screen. That said, Ben Affleck delivers surprisingly strong and believable performance and is much better than Hall, otherwise very fine actress, who is the weakest part of the cast. Hall tries to scream, yell and another techniques, but it has left me cold. Affleck on the other hands keeps his performance very cool but edgy, maybe not enough for us to sympathize with his character fully, but definitely enough to keeps us interested in him.

Jeremy Renner plays bad boy again, who doesn't care about any rules and does what he wants. He is starting to get typecast, yes, he is very good in what he does, but when you watch “The Town” you have very strong sense of deja vu and rightfully so, given that you saw it all before, in “The Hurt Locker” and “The Assassination of Jesse James”. However, there is one astonishing scene, filled with intense tension including all three – Hall, Affleck and Renner, when Claire is very close to finding out the truth about Doug when all she has to do is see Jam's tattoo. All of three actors delivers their A game here.

The best parts of the movie are scenes with Blake Lively and Jon Hamm. Lively, known from, watch out, “Gossip Girl” is very good and it's a shame she wasn't given more material to work with. I hope she quits the show soon and focuses on her movie career, because as with Mila Kunis, there is so much potential and talent in this girl. Hamm, highly praised for his work in hit series “Mad Men” mixes bad guy persona with being a good cop. He is very intense and captivating and we may be looking at future leading man of big movies. He certainly has the looks and charisma for it. With him on the screen, you're never sure what's gonna happen next.

Unfortunately, despite fine acting, the movie's script is not very good. The love story is underwritten, which is so much worse because it wasn't believable in the first place. Sometimes the events we see on screen are confusing, there is too much subject matter packed in this movie, too many childhood stories, agendas and schemes. It's very evident and easy to notice, because “The Town” has many great sequences – such as scenes near the ending. The ending itself, is a bit disappointing though – it's part cliché and part surprise, but thankfully it's not too sweet.

Affleck proves that he is very good director – he can orchestrate large cast of varied actors, complicated scenes and makes the audience care for people its watching. I hope he makes more movies – his projects have very raw force, sense of plausibility (for most of the time) and strong characters, which aren't easy to forget. But I don't think this movie should be in top 10 of 2010. There was plenty better films this year.

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