The Town by Ben Affleck

September 26, 2010
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The Town is a solid crime movie.  It’s got some nifty action, sharp dialogue, a strong narrative, gritty locales, and a cast packed with good actors doing good work.  Let’s fucking shake on it, it’s a date, I’m in – however you want to phrase it: The Town is a good time at the movies.  But while it’s well-done film that I would never tell someone not to see, this is more the type of movie that your Cousin Travis that you see at Christmas will bring up as having really liked when you struggle to think of things to say to one another while you both lean against the kitchen counter drinking locally brewed seasonal (most likely white, even though white beers suck) beers.  It’s the perfect kind of crime movie for the casual viewer (heretofore known as the Cousin Travis): not too dumb, not too ambiguous and not too dark.

It’s the story of a gang of bank robbers from Charlestown, lead by Ben Affleck’s character, that rob a bank (because, as I established, they are, you know, fucking bank robbers) and end up taking the manager (Rebecca Hall)  hostage during the getaway.  After they drop her off, the Bobby-De-Niro-in-Mean-Streets character played by Jeremy Renner (you may also know this archetype as the Eric-Roberts-in-The-Pope-of-Greenwich-Village character) wants to be sure she can’t identify them to the Feds so it’s up to thief-with-a-heart-o’-gold Ben Affleck to take her temperature, see if she remembers anything incriminating about them.  Naturally, while chatting her up Affleck ends up falling for her and her yuppie lifestyle (shades of Good Will Hunting anyone?).  Now Affleck has to keep the itchy-trigger-fingered Renner from finding out about their relationship, keep Hall from finding out who he really is, pull “one last big score” and evade the curiously dogged FBI agent (Jon Hamm), all before the audiences’ collective asses start to get sore in their seats.

Affleck, who also co-wrote and directed this adaptation of the Chuck Hogan novel Prince of Thieves, juggles all these old tropes nicely.  We care about the characters enough, the film’s rarely boring, some scenes really rock, some of the dialogue is crazy sharp, and you’ll hear no gripes from others as you’re walking out of the theater that “they found a sitter for this?”  But while this is all capable, fun shit, it’s just a solid time waster when compared to current crime films like Animal Kingdom or A Prophet or even Affleck’s previous directorial effort Gone Baby Gone.

But really, that’s okay.  This is a formula movie to a fault, but everything is done with great care.  And when you think about it, a decent American made crime film coming to theaters – and in the suburban multiplexes especially – is a rare fucking event these days.  Shit, get in line already, dear reader, and vote with your ticket purchase, your rallying cry being: I will gladly shell out money for shit like this.  If the studios pay attention, maybe in a few years Ben Affleck can make a movie where his character has some fucking edge, Animal Kingdom-style.

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Nerd of Noir

I love crime/noir fiction, comics and movies. I think my opinions are web-worthy. Then again, what asshole doesn't think that their opinions deserve a blog?

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2 Responses to The Town by Ben Affleck

  1. Patti Abbott on September 27, 2010 at 3:25 pm

    I thought Hamm was pretty bad. He just never nailed the accent, the attitude. More from me on Crimespree Cinema but basically same here. Animal Kingdom was in a whole different universe as far as authenticity.

  2. Sandra Ruttan on September 30, 2010 at 10:27 am

    While I knew where the story was going by and large, I wanted to be led there. Everything was well done. My only complaint about the movie was the noisy idiots sitting behind us who almost spilled their drink on Brian.

    I think Ben Affleck could become the go-to guy for great crime drama, and I am very impressed with what I’ve seen him do so far.