Sunday, September 26, 2010

Welcome to...

I liked Ben Affleck's other directed movie, Gone Baby Gone, so I thought I would check this one out, too. Even though he's once again doing a film based in Boston, and once again, it's based on a novel, I thought hey, if Scorsese or Allen can always make films based in NYC, why not Affleck? Then I realized I was defending the man without even seeing the film, and stopped.

So, The Town is a really solid drama/heist film, that is elevated somewhat by the performances of the cast, especially Ben Affleck and Jeremy Renner. Okay, before everyone starts ranting, all you can calm the hell down: Affleck can act. This movie proves it. The guy's could get an Oscar nod, he carries the film acting-wise, and is the moral centre of the picture. He can carry a picture, and he's a damned fine actor. His scene where he finally snaps on Renner is pretty powerful. I was glad to see Renner prove The Hurt Locker was no fluke either, his edgy performance as Affleck's best friend might see him nomed again, as well. The other actors are pretty good too, with an honourable mention to Jon Hamm as the dogged FBI guy who walks a fine line between reason and intimidation to crack the case.

The story itself is nothing new. 4 guys are doing bank and armoured car heists, wearing different getups. The job at the start sees Affleck's crew use Rebecca Hall to get into the vault, and then they inexpicably take her hostage. Affleck follows her afterwards to make sure she knows nothing, and they start a romance, naturally. Affleck is the guy who wants to break away from the gang, and go straight, but no one will let him. As he gets in deeper, you begin to question if he will walk away, or end up another casualty in the rough neighbourhood he and his cronies hail from.

Okay, so nothing Earth-shattering, but pretty good, and the movie was for the most part, enthralling. It would have been better though, if so many of the actors chose not to adorn thick Boston accents. I couldn't understand what some of them were saying, half the time. Also, for authenticity, they use slang and lingo familiar to people from Boston, or from people in Charlestown, the section of Boston that the film is set in. Once again, that's all nice and well for authenticity, but I AM NOT FROM BOSTON! I don't know what they were talking about, and I actually wrote a book set in Boston! So, that sort of took me out of the movie, a little bit.

The other thing was, and you can't avoid this with the subject matter, but there is a slight element of who cares to this movie, in relation to the characters. They're all bank robbers, quite a few of them are drug users, and Renner kills and shoots guys pretty indiscriminately. Affleck wants to go straight, but trust me, he isn't an angel, either. While the film sets up that this is pretty much how the residents of Charlestown are, where apparently they have the most bank robberies per capita in the United States (a fact posted before the movie), you take a risk when you make a film about such people, because basically they're lowlifes. If you're okay with that, fine, but if not, be warned, these guys are bad guys, and you're going to be following them around for most of the movie.

So, that's The Town. I enjoyed it for what it was, and am encouraged that Affleck has proven to be a solid director so far. This film is definitely Oscar-bait, so expect to hear more about it when awards season starts.

Rating 3.5 out of 5 stars.

- Stephenstein

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