Monday, 11 April 2011

Watched - No 5 - The Town (Ben Affleck,2010) Ben Affleck follows up his directorial debut Gone Baby Gone (2007), an adaptation of Dennis Lahane's novel of the same name, with another Boston set crime drama, this time with the action sequences seriously ramped up. Based in and around Charlestown, a Boston neighbourhood that apparently (to the real-life residents chagrin) is a world leader in churning out bank robbers, The Town, another adaptation, this time of Chuck Hogan's novel Prince of Thieves, is a familiar tale of criminal gangs, their unscrupulous bosses and a last heist destined to go belly up. Affleck stars as Doug MacRay, the brains of a hardened, professional outfit responsible for a spate of major robberies. After their latest heist leaves bank manager Claire Keesey (Rebecca Hall) traumatised but with valuable info as to the gang's identities, MacRay first follows, then befriends and eventually begins an affair with her. Determined to break free of his criminal life and begin anew with his new lover, MacRay's dreams hinge on Keesey not discovering who he really is. Jon Hamm, now a household name for his portrayal of Don Draper in Mad Men, plays Adam Frawley, the ruthless, organised FBI agent out to bring the gang to justice and crush MacRay's plans, and he delivers the stand out performance amidst the likes of Jeremy Renner, Pete Postlethwaite and Chris Cooper who all ably flesh out their roles as gang member, crime boss and MacRay's imprisoned father respectively

This is a solid, if derivitive, piece, flawed in terms of plausibility, predictability and its relegation of the female characters to subservient roles certainly, but The Town is strong mainstream film-making nonetheless. As Gone Baby Gone suffered from an implausible ending, The Town also similarly suffers a weak resolution, this time by being all too predicatable, albeit a handsomely staged and impressively executed one.
Affleck is definitely at home behind the camera, confident in his direction, with an expansive eye for location shooting, and assured in his handling of both actors and adapted material. It doesn't break any new ground genre wise, but I've seen many inferior crime films to this one. Affleck is certainly looking like an accomplished director who with fresher, more challenging material could go on to forge an impressive behind the camera career that may well outshine his patchy onscreen one. With full blown action sequences, reminiscent of Michael Mann's Heat (1995), The Town is a largely satisfying Saturday night slice of Hollywood entertainment.


  1. Nice summary. I enjoyed it despite being - as you say - derivitive and a bit silly. Cannae beat a good car chase. Also quite liked Rebecca Hall in this, after being horrified at her lack of a personality in Frost/Nixon.

  2. Frost/Nixon was rather dull, I'd have preferred to have watched the actual interviews.