I finally got to see The Town, the Boston crime drama/thriller co-written and directed by Ben Affleck. I had heard some good things about it, but I certainly did not expect The Town to be one of the best films I’ve seen this year.
There’s nothing terribly original or groundbreaking about the premise of ‘The Town’, ie Charlestown, a small neighbourhood that boasts the highest number of bank robbers in Boston. Affleck plays Doug MacCray, a local crook with a shady family history and a hot-headed best friend, James Coughlin, played by Jeremy Renner (from The Hurt Locker). An introductory heist introduces two key characters — Claire Keesey (Rebecca Hall), a pretty bank manager, and Adam Fawley (Jon Hamm from Mad Men), an FBI agent hunting them down.
The Town is an intense, emotional and explosive roller coaster ride that’s gripping from the very beginning until the final scene. It’s incredibly sharp, well written, has a great cast, and the heist sequences are some of the best I’ve ever seen. Affleck, who has never been the greatest actor in my opinion, has established himself as one heck of a director, and I certainly hope there will be plenty more to come from him in the future.
Affleck, Hall and Hamm are all solid — but for me it’s the brilliant Jeremy Renner who steals the show as the impulsive, reckless, but extremely loyal friend. The guy exudes screen presence and put me on edge every time he appeared. He was terrific in The Hurt Locker, where he was the ‘good guy’, but he’s probably even more effective here as a villain of sorts. I was surprised the film didn’t get more love from the voters on the Golden Globes, but I’m pleased to see that Renner got the nod for a best supporting actor nomination (the film’s only nomination).
Another pleasant surprise was Gossip Girl’s Blake Lively, who has a small but important role as the local skank. Lively has a tendency to annoy me on Gossip Girl, but I can’t deny she was amazing in this. Well done.
There’s nothing I didn’t like about this film. I’ve heard that critics are comparing The Town to the classic 1995 De Niro/Pacino film Heat. I was too young to remember the latter film favourably, but I am so impressed with The Town that I will definitely go check it out.
4.5 stars out of 5!