Director: Ben Affleck
Starring: Ben Affleck, Rebecca Hall, Jon Hamm
The Town is the second film from director Ben Affleck, whose previous movie Gone Baby Gone deservedly garnered high praise. The titular town is Charlestown, renowned for its large number of bank robbers – more so now that this movie has been made. The Town is about one such bank robber, Doug MacRay (Ben Affleck), and the dramatic changes in his life when one robbery in particular fails to go according to plan. The movie opens with the heist in question, it’s fast, fierce and cold. It’s here that we are introduced to Claire Keesey (Rebecca Hall), the manager of the bank, who in an unplanned move is taken hostage by Doug’s best friend and partner in crime Jem (Jeremy Renner). In an attempt to ensure this unforeseen occurrence doesn’t cause the gang any trouble, Doug follows Claire and engages her in conversation, but their encounter initiates an unlikely romance.
As Doug and Claire’s relationship develops their unique dynamic is explored in a number of interesting and entertaining ways – Claire confides in Doug, unwittingly having the man that harassed her confront the effects that his actions have had on another person. At the same time, Doug’s criminal mind leads him to doing unconscionable things in the name of love. Affleck handles the narrative with wit and flair, and draws great performances out of all involved. Jeremy Renner’s character is a little more one-note than the character he played in The Hurt Locker, but that is more than made up for by how committed he is to the character and the chemistry he has with Affleck. The rest of the supporting cast also do fantastic work; Jon Hamm as the FBI agent in pursuit of Doug’s gang and Blake Lively as the single mother Doug loved and left particularly stand out.
Whilst The Town fails to match the moral complexity and emotional impact of Gone Baby Gone, it’s equally successful in its world-building and has an authenticity that recalls Affleck’s directorial debut, aided no doubt by Affleck’s familiarity with Boston. Affleck also has an eye for interesting faces, populating the screen with actors that all have a lived-in look and extras that are real townsfolk. The Town is brutal entertainment, it has excellent atmosphere, pace, and great characters that make it a worthy follow up to Gone Baby Gone.