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The Town

A 2010 movie directed by Ben Affleck.

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A very solid, entertaining heist drama. Affleck has emerged as a very good director.

  • Nov 9, 2010
  • by
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 out and go straight, mostly out of love for a woman who is transforming him. This is a genre film…pulp even. These kinds of movies have been with us almost since movies began…and yet well-made crime films still grab us (HEAT springs to mind, but there are plenty of others) and poorly made ones are quickly forgotten. THE TOWN is certainly in the earlier category. It may not emerge as an all-time classic, but it is a sturdy, solid film with a true feel for its Boston locations and some outstanding performances.

Ben Affleck is Doug, the leader of the gang. His team wears comical masks and makes fast, non-violent robberies. But one day, things go a little awry, and the gang grabs a hostage, Claire (Rebecca Hall). Although she is released safely, there is fear that she may be able to ID her captors. Doug's childhood friend, and resident psycho, James (Jeremy Renner) wants her dead. Doug, taking a more reasonable approach, wants to meet her and talk to her, to see if she recognizes him. Not only does she not recognize him, but the two fall into a romance. This doesn't set well with James, who has always imagined that Doug would marry his sister Krista (Blake Lively). The two have a strained relationship, which is tested more and more as the film progresses. Hot on their heels is FBI agent Frawley (Jon Hamm); yet at the same time, neighborhood crime boss Fergus (Pete Postlethwaite) insists that the gang keep working, since he always gets a cut of their jobs. Doug is torn, but agrees to "one last heist."

Affleck is from Boston, and his two films show that he knows the neighborhoods very well. We don't get the glossy, touristy vision of these cities. We see the tough neighborhoods, the lower-middle class streets and the business districts that are off the main roads. (Although we also get some interesting backstage looks at the baseball stadium.) THE TOWN has a very strong sense of being in a very specific place. This gives the entire film a sheen of reality. It's a genre film with many familiar elements, but the specificity of the surroundings help make it seem more original than perhaps it is.

Affleck also gets solid performances from everyone. Best of all is Jeremy Renner (THE HURT LOCKER)…he's charming and dangerous in equal measure. We've sure seen this character in many films before…friend who drags down those closest to him…but Renner makes James a very specific character, and truly makes his role rise above cliché level. Rebecca Hall does nice work, and Jon Hamm is stolid and straight-laced. Blake Lively plays very effectively against type…she is far from a Gossip Girl. And special notice goes to the always amazing Postlethwaite (his villain is a truly slimy guy…no one can ooze danger better than this guy) and to Chris Cooper, who plays Affleck's father in one scene that is so well-written and performed, we pretty much learn all we'd ever need to about the relationship between father and son.

Affleck keeps the pace moving along at a decent clip. He doesn't try anything fancy…his films almost feel like throwbacks to the gritty urban crime movies of the ‘70s…you can almost imagine Pacino or DeNiro of that era fitting right in here. And Affleck clearly knows how to work with actors…he's been able to assemble stellar casts in both of his films and to get very nice performances all round. He handles tone very well…when funny things happen, they are always organic and never take us out of the mood of the film.

Affleck the actor is not quite so hot. He's better than usual here…but honestly, I wish he would just stay behind the camera. Ben Affleck seems like a terrific, genuine smart guy with a great wife and an appreciation of how good he has it. But when he acts, he seems like a charming lug. He doesn't ruin his own film (not by a long shot), but another, more skillful performer might have elevated THE TOWN another notch.

That being said, this is still an excellent film and is highly recommended for adult audiences looking for some drama and action that actually feels like it might be happening in our world. I eagerly look forward to Affleck's next effort.

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January 09, 2011
Excellent review, could not have said it better myself about Renner.
November 09, 2010
I am totally with you on Affleck's skills as an actor. I do hope he gets more directorial projects since for me, that is where his skill is at. Nice review. I liked this one a little more than you did I think.... :)
More The Town reviews
review by . September 19, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Good Direction and Characters 'MAKE
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 …
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 . 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, …
About the reviewer

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I've got my own site, www.afilmcritic.com, on which I'm posting my reviews. I am 46 years old, married 25 years, two kids (23 & 18) and currently work in accounting/finance. I spent 15 years … more
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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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