The Town (2010)
Directed by: Ben Affleck
Written by: Ben Affleck, Peter Craig
Starring: Ben Affleck, Blake Lively, Chris Cooper, Jeremy Renner, Jon Hamm, Pete Postlethwaite, Rebecca Hall, Titus Welliver
Ben Affleck proved his worth as a director with the exceptional Gone Baby Gone; does he pull it off a second time? Firstly, after Good Will Hunting, I didn’t think much of him, choosing some really bad roles and basically being a bit of an idiot. Gone Baby Gone changed all that, suddenly here was a serious film director with skill. To say I was excited about the Town is an understatement, and thankfully it does not disappoint. Affleck directs and star as bank robber Doug MacRay, he is the brains of his operation of a few highly skilled robbers who get their jobs from the rather creep and scary Fergie, played with exceptional sleaze by Pete Postlethwaite (RIP). Doug’s close childhood friend James Coughlin (a superb Jeremy Renner) is the brawn of the bunch, a psychotic who doesn’t think twice about knocking someone out, or going round to someone’s house to “scare” them because Doug has asked him to.
Things get complicated after a robbery where a young, attractive bank worker called Claire (Rebecca Hall) ends up becoming a target for the FBI because she may be able to identify the robbers. Choosing their next move wisely, Doug decides to follow the girl and make friends in the hope of finding out what she knows. One thing leads to another and the two fall in love, only for this to piss off James. It takes a while for James to figure things out, and in once incredibly tense scene, Doug is having lunch with Claire, and along comes James, not knowing who she is and acting a bit crazy. The panic on Doug’s face of being found out it shocking, and Claire can indentify one of the robbers by a tattoo on his neck, and this person just happens to be James!
What we have in this excellent crime saga is heavy drama, a romantic love story, a need for a better life and Heat style robberies and shoot outs that are delivered with perfection. Affleck has blended all these elements together to create something quite special indeed. A fast paced thriller that pulls no punches and excites at every level. The Boston accents can be a bit hard to follow at times and some may find this film a little too “talky” for its own good, but not me. I loved every second of this film, and Affleck has proved once again that he is a serious force now as a director, but once again as an actor. His performance here is believable, and never falls into those early days of cheesiness or stupidness.
The entire cast here are serious, right from the beginning. There’s no room for comedy value or light hearted stuff here. This is very much in a league with Michael Mann’s Heat, and that is saying something. Although this could never have been as good as Heat, it’s definitely proving that not far on the horizon Affleck may have his masterpiece just waiting for us. For his sake, I really hope he keeps up this level of grittiness, realism, drama and brilliance in his films.