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The Town

A 2010 movie directed by Ben Affleck.

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I preferred when it was called Heat

  • Dec 28, 2010
  • by
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 a hostage - who doesn't know his profession. And it happens in Boston.

There are a couple of fairly average action sequences tied together by characters dialogging at each other like they've got a goldfish memory mixed with verbal diarrhea. And that's pretty much it, except for the fact that everyone says "Fuck" in Boston a lot, and Don Draper from Mad Men is a better ad guy than FBI agent.

I would leave it at that, but there are massive plot holes and leaps of logic all over the places. Here are some of my favorites:
  1. The first heist is expertly planned. Then the subsequent robberies were thrown together haphazardly for no apparent reason other than to attract cops and create chase sequences. Really incredibly dumb beyond words.
  2. The FBI suspects Affleck & Co from the start, but doesn't bother surveilling their activities, except at one barbecue. Basically, had the FBI agents acted like the real FBI (or the fictional FBI in any other movie ever made), Affleck's crew would have been shut down after 10 minutes - and I could have hit the local bar.
  3. Rebecca Hall complains that her Prius had bottles thrown at it "in the projects". Affleck and sidekick go to a specific apartment in the projects and beat the ever-loving Bejesus out of someone without ever making the connection between the two. Firstly, how did he know the guy? And - more importantly - why would he even care or take the pointless, pointless risk in the midst of planning heists amidst FBI stings?
  4. The A-Team quality skill-level with machine guns is really laughable and looks really dated, but I just threw that in for giggles.
Not content with a sieve-like storyline, it's then delivered to us amidst some truly awful dialog, where characters feel compelled to provide exposition in every damned scene (in between saying "Fuck" a lot):
  1. Hall, upon meeting Affleck for under five minutes, is pretty much gagging to confess what we all just saw happen, and it sounds like: "Btw, I was just in a bank robbery which I have to tell you because I like you and here's some more information about the robbery which obviously there's no way you're involved in because that wouldn't make any sense." The good news is that she doesn't say fuck very much.
  2. Renner (remember the guy from The Hurt Locker?) reminds Afffleck that he spent 9 years in the slammer more times than my mom reminds me I once left my jacket on a bus. Talk about repetitive, and that's in between his incessant ranting about needing "take cayrh of the fuckin' toonie bank bitch". What a charmer too.
  3. Postlethwaite meanwhile delivers a slight variant on the "I killed your brother" speech common in screenplays with something to do about how Affleck's mother died like a whore - you know, the sort of thing you'd say to encourage someone to shoot you in the "reproductive area", which (SPOILER!) Ben does at the end.
Before I get to some other gripes, I'd like to pause and reflect on Affleck's double whammy in The Town, even though I'm probably a toonie/townie or whatever, and here it is: he directs his own dismal acting poorly, so they kind of cancel each other out. The direction is on par with the average episode of Dexter, which is fine for TV but really sub-par for the silver screen. As for the performance, Affleck's acting is so stale that they could have used a week-old baguette instead...

See? But that's a cheap shot, since many actors do a bad job directing themselves. I just liked the idea of Photoshopping that image, especially since the sign to the right said something about "fried dough".

What's more unforgivable than his lackluster line-reading is the way that Heat was ripped off so mercilessly - and Michael Mann isn't even dead yet! Heat was such a definitive genre movie that you screw with its awesomeness at your peril.

"SIMILARITIES" betwixt the Amateur-Land Movie Called "The Town" and The Masterpiece Called "Heat":
  1. Super-obsessed cop chasing down the hero, and specifically remarks multiple times on how awesome the hero's crew must be and how they need to be shut down.
  2. The crew doesn't plan their own jobs - an established character-actor-slash-third party provides all the info.
  3. Cops rely on tiny fragments of information from informants to make giant leaps of faith to bust everyone in the crew. Should be picking lottery numbers instead, since it's pretty weak in both films.
  4. Cops photograph everyone in the crew at a casual event, but it's ok since the hero knows about it - and tells the cop later! "We've been made, boys!"
  5. Cop and robber sit down and have a tete-a-tete about which one is going down first. Great when De Niro and Pacino do it.... not so great when Hamm and Affleck give it a shot.
  6. Hero meets a sweet-yet-damaged girl who makes him realize that his awesome lifestyle is really terrible and needs to get out. Naturally, she doesn't know what he's doing but finds out and then hates him and loves him anyway.
  7. The cops stake out the last job but only at exactly the point where the gang is leaving with the money. Imagine that.
  8. Crew walks down street with machine guns and big bags full of greenbacks - cop sees one member and kills him.
  9. Hero disguises himself as cop/security to bypass cops in pursuit. I presume in real life this wouldn't fly, by the way.
  10. Cops use girlfriends to ensnare robbers, but girlfriends use magic signals that haven't been previously foreshadowed to save their beloveds. A little cheaty.
  11. Hero must deal with final "set things right" killing before it's all over. Even for Affleck, shooting a man in the rhubarb is really a little low.
I'm sure I could find another dozen if I bothered to watch this again, but I have better things to do, like boiling my hair. It's remarkable how similar they are - The Town is just like Heat but without quality acting, dialog, direction and suspense, though otherwise it's the same film. Now, don't get me wrong: it's not that the The Town is all bad - it's just that we already saw the good parts in Heat and Ronin.

Bring on the fanboy feedback - BRING IT ON!

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January 19, 2011
Perfect review title, great analogy and analysis - totally agree!!
January 19, 2011
Thanks! Can't believe it was Pete Postlethwaite's last film....
January 09, 2011
Wonderful review although I feel the exact opposite of you about this film, love the way you wrote this though. Some of the stuff is explained better in the extended cut but I was thinking "Heat" at times as well. Renner though I must say [regardless of what was written for him to say] was excellent. Been a fan of his since his first flick, speaking of Renner have you seen "Dahmer"?
January 10, 2011
Lol, I haven't seen Dahmer though I will add it to my Netflix queue immediately.

I was pondering over the weekend a new movie that's a cross between The Town and Who Framed Roger Rabbit? So many excellent scenes planned.
December 30, 2010
Yeah I pretty much thought that GONE BABY GONE had the better storyline, but this had better direction and execution. It does have a very cliched story but I liked it. The direction was real strong though, and I am a sucker for "Heat-like" themes and firefights. I scored this a strong 3.5- a weak 4 I think. Your review was pretty entertaining as always! Btw, nice new profile pic!
December 30, 2010
Have you seen the French movie District B13? Pretty entertaining stuff from Nikita director Luc Besson. New profile pic for 2011!
December 30, 2010
Yes I have. that movie had crazy stunts. The lead there was one of the bad guys in Kiss of the Dragon methinks. There's actually a sequel now filming out in Europe and Asia now called "B13: Ultimatum". Nice photo, James!
December 29, 2010
LOL, though I've heard the contrary from a few people, I love how you teared this a new one! HIlarious :P
December 29, 2010
It's bad. Real bad. Though speaking poorly of Affleck is like criticizing Apple, so I fully expect some slaps (or ignores)....
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 . 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 . 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, …
review by . April 21, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
  Ben Affleck’s directorial debut, “Gone Baby Gone,”  starred his baby brother and the city of Boston, one of the few settings in recent movies that can almost function as a character.  I loved that movie; so much that I made it my number 1 film of 2007.  So imagine my excitement when I found out that Affleck was directing another crime drama set in his hometown.   And that it had Jeremy Renner and Rebecca Hall in it.  I needed a cup to catch …
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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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