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The Town

A 2010 movie directed by Ben Affleck.

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Good Direction and Characters "MAKE" The Bank Robbery Capital Of America!

  • Sep 19, 2010
Ok….last time I saw Ben Affleck on camera was when I saw the romantic drama “He’s Just Not That Into You” but my memory is forever tainted with memories of him playing opposite J-Lo in the movie “Gigli“ (which I haven‘t seen up to this day). I was never “pro-Affleck” nor was I an “anti-Affleck”; however, I do know that he has some storytelling skills as he co-wrote “Good Will Hunting” and despite several plot missteps because of his inexperience as a director, Affleck managed to pull off a well-endowed mystery with “Gone Baby Gone”. Well, in his latest film which he co-wrote, appears in and directed, “THE TOWN“, Ben Affleck isn’t overly ambitious and goes for a simpler tale of a man who wants to make a change in his life and maybe leave his life of crime for something brighter. The film is based on the novel by Chuck Hogan called “Prince of Thieves”.

Doug McRay (Ben Affleck) is a man who robs banks and armored cars with his friends James Coughlin (Jeremy Renner), Albert McLoan (Slaine) and Desmond Elden (Owen Burke). The foursome gets their assignments or their “mark” from a seedy flower shop headed by an old man (Pete Postlethwaite) who also gave ‘marks’ to Doug’s father (Chris Cooper) before he was sent to prison. During their latest bank job, Doug and his group took a young woman named Claire (Rebecca Hall) hostage as insurance and they set her free after they had successfully made their getaway. However, James becomes real concerned that she may have a way of recognizing him so Doug decides to keep an eye on her for fear that James’ trigger-happy disposition may cause an unnecessary death. Doug then develops a relationship with Claire, as he slowly becomes closer and closer to her…but then the FBI is hot on the trail of Doug’s group…

               Pete Postlethwaite as Fergus "Fergie" Colm in "The Town."

               Ben Affleck as Doug Macray, Slaine as Albert "Gloansy" Magloan, Jeremy Renner as Jem Coughlin and Owen Burke as Desmond Elden in "The Town."

I haven’t read the book by Chuck Hogan so I cannot make a judgment call on how exactly this remains faithful to its source material. However, despite the film’s somewhat unoriginal set ups, I found “The Town” quite compelling. I liked the way the film developed its characters and I have to say that I’ve observed the maturity in Affleck’s directorial skills. I liked what I saw and I was happy with how the film developed its themes of friendship, an old hat story about a man looking for a change and how it injects the idea that a woman can change the heart of a man.

              Rebecca Hall as Claire Keesey in "The Town."

            Blake Lively as Krista Coughlin in "The Town."

From the start of the film, you see a definition of “Charlestown” which has birthed more bank robbers than any other place in America (I am not sure if this is indeed fact). This is a place where robbery appears to be a way of life and the ‘job’ has been passed down from generations to generations. I liked the film’s twisted sense of family as Doug’s past in strongly linked to the old man called “Fergie”, not just how he gave assignments to Doug’s dad but also how he is linked to his own mother. The viewer is taken into the world of Doug Mcray and his relationship with James (Doug also sleeps with James’ sister on occasion) and how he became a bank robber. It is almost like, what else is there to do, when the opportunity knocks? Claire becomes the catalyst for this significant moment in Doug’s life, as he finds a conscience and perhaps a way out of this life he has known since forever. I LOVED their courtship as it is based on some real honest-to-goodness sincerity to a point; it made the two believable as developing friends and then as real lovers. It is to the credit of its writing that I felt immersed in the conversations. The direction gives the town of “Charlestown” character as we see the place through interactions and the lives of our characters.

             Jeremy Renner as Jem Coughlin in "The Town."

            Chris Cooper as Stephen Macray in "The Town."

           Rebecca Hall as Claire and Ben Affleck as Doug MacRay in "The Town."

Of course, “The Town” throws in a small, subtle rivalry in the face of its screenplay. The parallelism between Doug and special agent Adam Frawley (Jon Hamm) who seems to have come from similar backgrounds and yet they are on opposite sides of the fence. They approach their assignments with a no-nonsense, meticulous yet reckless abandon, he similarities between the two are obvious even though they barely shared screen time together save for one sequence. McRay was a better written character than Frawley unfortunately, that there were times that Frawley felt like a simple device though I liked the fact that he is the law in the film; and he enforces it the best way he can. It was real interesting how the film plays the ‘bad guy’ angle a little more sympathetic than the ‘good guy’ in the film; I sure wished that the FBI agent had more ‘meat’ to his character, but I guess the film wants to focus on the McRay character since sympathy is key to enjoying this film.

The script was pretty strong as it develops the things Doug wishes to change as he gets pressure from James (played by Renner) in marrying his sister (Blake Lively). Renner plays the toughest S.O.B. of the group but unfortunately, he doesn’t get developed as well as the other main characters as he felt rather clichéd. Renner does a great job in his portrayal and as always, I had mixed feelings with Affleck’s acting skills. I thought that Affleck’s Irish accent was a little uneven, that there were times that I thought it was funny; but the McRay character was a strong one so I managed to forgive Affleck’s own shortcomings as an actor. I guess his performance wasn’t solid but it was enough to polish the roughness of his character.

               Jon Hamm as Detective Frawley in "The Town."

               Ben Affleck as Doug MacRay and Jeremy Renner as Jem in "The Town."

               Jon Hamm as FBI Special Agent Adam Frawley and Blake Lively as Krista Coughlin in "The Town."

The film does also manage to inject some doses of black humor through its dialogue, but it wasn’t that playful banter that viewers are used to. The humor was used to play the film’s mood, the humor maybe angry and yet it can be funny; the dialogue is pretty sharp though I was surprised with the restraint on F-bombs. There are some gunfights in the film that may rival “Heat” for its gritty appeal; they were intense and pretty exciting. I liked the car chase and the climactic gunfight in the film’s closing act. The action in the film isn’t its central focus though, as this is a crime drama more than anything. I guess if the gunfights had a weakness is the fact that we know that it wasn’t going to end well in the climax, since Doug and his group’s luck seemed to take a slow nosedive after the bank job. I guess the script was trying to tell the viewer that one needs to pay attention to the signs, and one can only push one’s luck too far.

“The Town” is a pretty exciting crime drama that relies on its characters to develop the story and not the other way around. There were some flaws in the script and some devices did feel a little clichéd, it does offer little surprises and if you’re used to crime thrillers, then you may see some resolutions coming a mile away. I guess “Gone Baby Gone” had the better script but the direction on that film was lacking; “The Town” had a more mature Affleck at its helm but the script this time around wasn’t very ambitious. Despite some rough edges, “The Town” is a film worth seeing, it has a well-developed story that worked around its characters; I also was impressed with the way the direction wielded its climactic finale. I did feel that the film had a weaker script than I wished it to be, but the direction was competent and thorough enough to carry the film through its entirety and it feels quite engaging for what it was.

Affleck is developing as a director, and may be the one to watch ( I like him more as director/writer than actor actually). Now let‘s hope his skills as a writer goes along with his directorial skills, then he may become a true force to be reckoned with.

Highly Recommended! [4- Out of 5 Stars]

This Review is a Movie Hype Community Exclusive @lunch.com

Good Direction and Characters 'MAKE

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November 09, 2010
In many ways, I thought the script for GONE, BABY, GONE was weaker than THE TOWN. It took on some interesting subjects and emotionally the film was more ambitious...but several of the plot twists and turns in GONE were just too hard to believe. How many endings does a film need? I think what I like best about Affleck the director is his clear skill with actors. Much like Eastwood, he really lets his performers take the time to act and build characters.
September 26, 2010
Both you and coldsteel make the same remark about the validity of the "bank robbery capital of the world" It's probably the one thing I remember from the trailer, that and "THE TOWN" is a rather mundane name for this movie. THE BANK would have been better.
September 25, 2010
It is interesting to me that you like Affleck more as a director than as an actor. I thought he was pretty good in this film. I did not care too much for Hall's performance though. I thought it was predictable, too.
September 25, 2010
Yeah, I know. I like Affleck more as a director for the most part, despite my misgivings with Gone Baby Gone, I thought it was pretty ambitious. This may be one of his best roles for sure (but his Irish accent needed to feel more natural) and despite the predictable nature of this movie's plot and contrivances, I thought the characters developed well in its gritty atmosphere. I'll be right by to read your review shortly, I know I liked this one a little more than you did....
September 21, 2010
Why does everyone seem surprised that Affleck can direct decent films?
September 21, 2010
Because of "Gigli"? ;)
September 21, 2010
Did he actually direct that? I'm pretty sure that "Gone Baby Gone" and "The Town" are his only directorial efforts.
September 21, 2010
No, he didn't. But starring in a movie that was meant as a mere promotional device for his relationship with J-Lo at the time was pretty cheap.
September 21, 2010
I thought that their relationship sprung out of the film, not the film out of the relationship.
September 22, 2010
uh-uh. J-Lo had already left her husband at the time.
September 22, 2010
LOL! Which one? ; )
September 22, 2010
LOL! can't remember... ;)
September 22, 2010
And who cares anyway? LOL!
September 20, 2010
LOL, Gigli :P Glad to hear that this one is much MUCH better! Actually sounds really cool. Thanks for sharing!
September 21, 2010
Me too. I need to see Gigli just to see how bad it really was. Thanks for reading, Lady D! ;) By the way as Aerin teased me about it, I LOVED the courtship between the Doug and Claire characters. :P
September 22, 2010
oh, maybe you would know...Me and Orlok were trying to figure out the name of J-Lo's hubby who she left for Affleck...I know me and him are having a gossip column. LOL!
September 20, 2010
Excellent review William! Caught a lengthy preview to this one when I pay-per-viewed the new Clash of the Titans. I thought it looked decent enough but your review has me really interested. Also great work calling out Affleck's Irish accent. I was skeptical about that myself. In all though well done my man!
September 20, 2010
Thanks, Jay! This movie's plot was pretty much a card-board cut out of some other crime dramas but it sure developed it well. I liked it. Affleck has matured as a filmmaker methinks. Oh, check this one out too...
September 19, 2010
I am seeing this in a couple of days and I already know I will love it, your review only makes me want to see it more. If you go back in my Amazon reviews of Dahmer and Swat and such like that I have been saying Jeremy Renner was going to be one of the best actors out. Out came the Hurt Locker and now it seems I was right. As for Affleck I am actually a pro Affleck guy. Any one who stars in Kevin Smith films has got to be a cool dude, plus I actually enjoy his work. Excellent review WP, once again you prove you are the best.
September 20, 2010
I remember that. Renner is a great actor and despite the cliches of his character here, he made good with his performance. I am in between when comes to Affleck, but I am with you, I like Smith so he does get added points to me. By the way, I am not the best, everyone is just as good. I am just bored and hard-working ;)
September 20, 2010
Nonsense good Sir you are an excellent writer and reviewer WP.
More The Town reviews
review by . December 28, 2010
Let's get one thing out of the way, lest I upset the Affleck fanboys: The Town is not a good movie. And not just because the trailer looked interesting but completely misled the audience. I'm glad they gave Victor Garber a job, even briefly, since he'd probably be behind on his rent otherwise (and we know from Pretty Woman what happens then).   In case you don't know, it's about a bank robber doing "one last job" as a romance develops with a woman - previously …
review by . January 06, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
Boo to Affleck!
The story is about robbers and robberies in Charlestown. The premise that the story is based on is not a healthy one; at least for me it is not.       Now, if I had been robbed and saw with my own eyes my colleague being hit in the head (and possibly died from it too) and then to be taken as a hostage, I'd have undergone an experience where I need to see my psychiatrist with immediate effect!            And yet, 4 days later, Claire …
review by . November 09, 2010
With GONE, BABY, GONE, Ben Affleck announced himself as a very capable director. It was a riveting film (even if it had some rather melodramatic turns…more the fault of author Dennis Lehane), and showed an excellent feel for working with actors. With THE TOWN, Affleck has stepped up his game another notch.    Very little that's truly new happens in THE TOWN. It tells the story of a small band of bank robbers, the cop who seeks them, and how the leader of the gang wants to get …
review by . December 03, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
When Ben Affleck's acting career began to go down the toilet he found a new calling when he directed Gone Baby Gone.  Directing.  If there was one thing we all discovered about Ben Affleck, it was that he was a competent director who knows what he's doing.  The Town shows that there are times when he can be rather meticulous.  The Town is a good movie in many respects, mostly because it focuses on characters more so than anything else.  That's also one o the …
review by . May 02, 2011
I so badly wanted to love this movie, but all I did was like it. I was also kind of wary because I know the history Ben Affleck has with movies (especially with his amount of razzie nominations) and I wasn't even aware of the existence of Gone Baby Gone until this movie was released. The Town definitely shows that what Ben Affleck doesn't know about acting, he certainly knows about directing, and this proves that Ben is a director to be reckoned with. Despite odd and slow pacing and a somewhat …
review by . April 13, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
A neighborhood in Boston called Charlestown is well known because it has the most number of armed robbers in the U.S. Doug MacRay (Ben Affleck), James Coughlin (Jeremy Renner), Albert 'Gloansy' Magloan (Slaine), and Desmond Elden (Owen Burke) are all robbers living in this neighborhood. Doug and James are like brothers to each other, as the Coughlin family basically took Doug in since his mother died when he was young. The four together are very succesful bank robbers; however, one bank …
review by . December 22, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
2 1/2 Stars: this is not the town for me
Ben Affleck has never had it easy in Hollywood  he has had one of the roughest  careers of any actor I know and yet even tough times have been rough for him he always finds some way to bounce back  into the  limelight  and restore his image. In 2006 Affleck revived his fledgling career  with a Golden Globe nominated turn in Allen Coulter’s directorial debut "Hollywoodland"(2006) which had Affleck playing a washed up actor  named George Reeves(the …
review by . April 19, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
When looking for a good heist film I also try to look for something that will either have me on the edge of my seat or something strong actors that the characters keep me entertained.  The Town is a film that gives you a handful of shining moments with it's characters and just enough suspense and action to keep you from walking out of the theater.      I will admit that the film does achieve it's goal of entertaining an audience, because I truly was entertained.  …
review by . April 16, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
      THE TOWN      When this film was first released I was all kinds of excited since I am a huge Jeremy Renner and a Ben Affleck fan as well. Add in that not only do I like those two as actors but I thought Affleck's first film "Gone Baby Gone" was great. So needless to say that we [my little group of friends and such] really wanted to see this movie and were excited about it. Of course we loved it but I must say that this DVD/Blu-Ray combo …
review by . October 05, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Pros: cinematography, scenery of Boston, accents     Cons: unlikable characters, unrealistic     The Bottom Line: Ben Affleck will never live like common people.     I’m not opposed to rooting for the bad guy. Really, I’m not! There have been some very likable villains in the great history of cinema. Doug MacRay (Ben Affleck) is simply not one of them.     MacRay and his buddies are bank robbers from Charlestown, …
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About this movie


The Town is a 2010 action crime thriller film starring, co-written and directed by Ben Affleck that is based on Chuck Hogan's novel Prince of Thieves. The film opened in theaters in the United States on September 17, 2010 to rave reviews, with Rotten Tomatoes giving it a "Certified Fresh" rating with 94% positive critical reviews.

The motion picture is one of a number of films set in Boston, Massachusetts over the past decade that have formed a "sub-genre" of crime movies, including Affleck's own Gone Baby Gone.

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Director: Ben Affleck
Genre: Drama
Release Date: 17 September 2010 (USA)
MPAA Rating: R
Screen Writer: Ben Affleck, Peter Craig
Runtime: 123 minutes
Studio: Warner Bros. Pictures
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