The Town Review

By: Bryan Montgomery (www.twitter.com/bcmontgomery)
Rating: 9 out of 10

Imagine what would have happened if The Departed took Heat out on a date.  The night goes pretty well, but The Departed has one too many Samuel Adams Boston Lagers, and Heat one too many daiquiris.  One thing leads to another…which results in The Town.

Now that’s a heavily sarcastic way of describing Ben Affleck’s new film, which is absolutely one of the best films of the year, and shows that Ben Affleck must now be considered as one of the better film directors in the business, as both this and his last film, Gone Baby Gone, are legitimized hits that will be seen as great crime movies set in the city of Boston. More after the break.

Doug MacRay (Ben Affleck) is an “architect” (calm down, Inception fans) who plans and executes high-scale bank robberies, with three other men on his squad which include James “Jem” Coughlin (Jeremy Renner).  Growing up in Charlestown, the team robs a bank and takes Claire Keesey (Rebecca Hall) hostage.  After letting her go, MacRay discovers that Keesey lives in Charlestown, and goes to keep an eye on her while still evading FBI Special Agent Adam Frawley.  Soon, the FBI begins to pick up their intensity, and MacRay decides that he wants out after becoming romantically involved with Claire.

The Town is so good simply because it makes you care and it makes you want to see what comes next.  One of the major complaints about this generation of films are that they lack creativity, originality, and enough new factors to make it interesting for new viewers.  The Town is driven by its characters.

I have been a long-time critic of Ben Affleck’s performances in the various films that he has been in.  Finally, in The Town, he has his breakthrough role that actually works.  His role as MacRay is played to a level that really works for what he wanted out of it, and his upbringing in Boston and the understanding of the city is shown throughout his vision both behind the camera and in front of it.  The audience deserves to feel all of the emotions towards MacRay throughout his ordeal, both the ups and the downs of it, and as a result, it’s hard to not identify with him throughout the movie, from the thrill of a successful robbery to the agony of losing friends and the revelation that your current career choice can only lead to incarceration.

Jeremy Renner needs to win an Oscar this year for his role as Coughlin.  Last year he was simply unlucky in the Oscars, losing to an unstoppable Jeff Bridges despite his fantastic role in The Hurt Locker, and he maintains that mentally unstable and uncomfortably psychotic character in Coughlin.  He is a character who was incarcerated for murder, and comes out with one objective only; to continue to make money and to keep close the few people left that he has to trust in the world.

The rest of the cast is full of highlights, as Rebecca Hall plays Claire perfectly; representing a character that goes through hell and back several times throughout the movie, but always manages to maintain her convictions no matter what the obstacle.  Chris Cooper plays MacRay’s father who is imprisoned for robbery and double homicide, and the scene between MacRay and his father stands as one of the best scenes in the film.

The action in the movie is solid as well, as the few bank robbery scenes stand out as breathtaking, suspenseful and action-packed.  Despite all of the drama and the action in the film, it still finds time to be humorous, cracking some quick-hitting humor in-between the serious scenes and finishing off in style, with a major, high-scale robbery in the “Cathedral of Boston”, Fenway Park.

The Town is not a film that drags or slows down.  There’s not really a weak point in this movie, except for the fact that many moviegoers will feel like they’ve seen it before.  That may be true, but not like this.  The Town has the Boston atmosphere of The Departed, but does not deal with organized crime the way that Scorcese’s movie does.  What makes The Town work is the people, who make you feel the pain that they go through and their experiences, as all it takes is one look into MacRay’s eyes to see everything he is going through.

When The Departed won its Oscar back in 2007, it came out in October and the talk carried over into January.  It’s a high possibility that The Town can do the same.  It is an action-packed thriller that never loses its human touch, leading to a fantastic sophomoric effort for Ben Affleck and one of the best movies of the year.

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