You can take the boy of the town but you can’t take the town out of the boy. Ben Affleck has proven that he is best when he doesn’t stray too far from home returning to the place that made him famous with Good Will Hunting, Affleck is clearly in the zone and gives his strongest role and directoral performance in years.
Charlestown, a blue-collar neighborhood in Boston, is infamously known for being the bank robbery capital of the world. Doug MacRay (Affleck) leads a band of brothers that despite their rough exteriors are consummate professionals at heisting banks and armored cars. With poisonous partner James (Jeremy Renner), MacRay is wanting to retire once he meets and falls in love with Claire (Rebecca Hall), a former hostage. Jon Hamm plays the FBI agent in charge of capturing the team in hopes of cleaning up Charlestown.
With ‘townies’ planning crimes, The Town is a mix between Good Will Hunting and The Departed, although not as compelling as either. However, it is a solid effort with characters you care about and tension you can cut with a knife. Action is pretty descent considering Affleck is not known for directing gun fights or car chase scenes (there is a terrific chase midway through). Renner and Hamm do great in their respective roles. Even Blake Lively pulls off a convincing dramatic part as the white trash ex for MacRay. My only complaint with characters is that the other two team members are very forgettable. No time is given to them so you care very little for them by the end. I also wasn’t fully satisfied by the end of the film. Without spoiling it, the conclusion wasn’t bold nor inspired but it didn’t detract from the experience but it kept it from going from ‘good’ to ‘great’.
With only a few directorial titles under his belt, Affleck is showing promise with this film. Not being a fan of Affleck (who really is?) my only past film that I enjoyed was the aforementioned Good Will Hunting. Dare Devil about made me want to poke my eyes out and be blind like his character Matt Murdock. And let’s not fail to mention Gigli- yikes. Maybe it’s his continual smugness. Maybe it’s the fact that he is too tall to like. I dunno. But you got to respect anyone that can not just act in but direct a solid film. A couple of years back, he also took a small part in Jason Bateman’s Extract as a perpetually ‘high’ best friend. Years back, during the ‘Bennifer’ era, Affleck’s ‘brand’ had out grown his abilities. It seems he has become a little more sensible by playing smaller parts and sticking close to home. When he (like any actor) can act from the heart it shows. I’m actually looking forward to his career from this point on. But Ben, please stay away from the superhero tights.