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THE TOWN (2010)

>> Monday, September 27, 2010

Ben, Dardevil I get. But Armageddon?! COME ON!!

In a life lead by misguided thoughts and multiple directions, many people will wonder what path is theirs. If you are surrounded by friends and family who support you, they may tell you that (although it may not happen right away) that pursuing your passion no matter what will land you in a job that has meaning for you and that you’re good at and eventually, you will end up where you are meant to be. This may account for about 90% of all American Idol auditions, sure, but it’s also responsible for Ben Affleck’s inevitable realization that maybe he belongs behind the camera, as opposed to in front of it.

This is an obvious insight for those of us who have seen Affleck’s acting (which I never minded as much as others) compared to some respectable behind the camera work as with Good Will Hunting (1997) - which snagged Affleck his only Oscar to date. Only after Gone Baby Gone (2007) was released, however, did people take note of the insight Affleck had as a director. When you think of doing something for as long as Affleck surely did, though, perhaps it wasn’t an unusual thing there was one diamond in the rough. But to do it again would take actual talent - something Affleck surely didn’t have.

At least, that’s what most people may think walking into Affleck’s second stab at directing, The Town. They may find themselves pleasantly surprised, however, by how well this film is put together. The Town is about four guys who live in Charlestown (which is in Boston, Massachusetts). Apparently Charlestown (or ‘the town’) is America’s bank robbery capital and gives birth to more bank robbers in the US than any other city. I’m guessing that’s nothing they would like to advertise on the ‘Welcome to Charlestown!’ sign as you’re driving into town.

These four guys (which include Affleck and Jeremy ‘I want another Oscar nom’ Renner) may seem under- educated and nothing but simple quarry labourers by day, but by night (or day as well since it’s a bank) they are bank robbers, and pretty good ones at that. They know how to cover their tracks, have back up cars, get in/get out in a timely fashion all while playing it cool. That is until Doug (Affleck) takes hostage Claire (Rebecca Hall) as insurance during one of his heists, then begins to stalk her to make sure that she doesn’t know anything. He inevitably gets too close and what do you know? He starts to like her. Doug’s long time friend James (Renner) is concerned this will get in the way of their ‘work’ and starts to have a general dislike for their relationship when Doug starts talking about him and Claire running away together.

The decision to leave Charlestown with Claire also puts Doug in another sticky situation. The crime boss Doug and friends work for, refuses to let him get out of the game and go lead his fantasy life, especially since there’s a heist being planned that will rake in roughly $3 million. I won’t say what it is, but the place they plan to hit is quite a clever idea and serves for an interesting setting when the time comes to make the move. It’s also very representational of the location The Town is set in.

I had seen the movie several days ago but due to other projects and just being busy in general I wasn’t able to write this review until now. That’s given some time to let the movie sink in and see how it settles with me. Turns out, it settles quite well. Now, The Town is a really well done movie. From the startling images of the nun outfits (notorious with the poster by now), the unique relationships the characters have with one another to the atypical crime boss who runs a flower shop, The Town not only shows that Affleck has an eye for directing and camera set up – but one for character as well. Affleck’s acting in the film was alright, btw, but nothing anymore special than his performance in Daredevil (2003). The rest of the actors are good enough though that they overcome any burden Affleck’s acting may have had and carry him through to the end.

I am giving The Town an open door. It’s exciting enough to hold your attention throughout the movie and Renner’s performance along with Hall’s may snag them some Oscar nominations. Is The Town my favourite movie of the year? No. Frankly, movies like this or The Departed (2006) never really drew my attention – as good as they may be. But it shows Affleck’s growth and ability to grab attention with a simple image, such as the nun outfit and many more throughout the film that play out like a modern mob tale. Guess you could say he went to town on The Town – creatively speaking that is.

*Stills courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures


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