After watching the stellar and often still surprising "Gone Baby Gone", one could say that I jumped on the 'Ben Affleck is a fuck lot better of a director than actor' bandwagon. Partially cause its damn true. He showed he had some real savvy when it came to sitting behind the camera. This is one of the reasons that when "The Town" hit theaters, my wife and I were off to the local cinema to catch it. Although not quite as good as his previous film, "The Town" does strike some damn great moments despite its rather tried and true (read: I've see it all before) plot and story.
Doug (Affleck) is getting ready for a change in his life. He has 3 friends that have worked together for some time now for a florist. Not delivering flowers or anything like that. No. They rob banks and armored cars. But after their latest bank robbery goes a bit sour after his 'brother' Coughlin (Renner) decides to take a hostage, he decides he needs a better life. After checking in that the hostage (Hall) doesn't know anything, he begins to see life differently and haphazardly falls for her. Now he finds himself struggling with his 'family' and his need for his new life. With at least one last job to do, he is ready for a change. But the people around him don't want him to go and a determined FBI agent is looking to put him away for good.
Ironically, the best thing that this film has going for it is Ben Affleck. It's not very often that those words get typed in any sort of shape or form. It's true for "The Town". Offering his talent as co-writer/director/actor (damn, yo!) his contributions cannot be under appreciated here. Even his acting has stepped up for the film, almost enough to make me forget about "Pearl Harbor"....no not quite though, and his directing elevates this film from being your average heist film onto a plane to run alongside other great heist films.
Although "The Town" does seem more like 'The Ben Affleck Show' the more one thinks about it, he does get some serious acting help from his more than awesome supporting cast. Renner as the edgy and sometimes psychotic best friend, Jon Hamm as the pressing FBI agent, and Rebecca Hall all match their time on screen with the intensity of the film's drama and action sequences. In fact, many of them seemed fairly underused for their weight and abilities (particularly some of the even smaller roles like that of the ex-girlfriend/brother to Renner's character who does an amazing job in the film) and at the end of the film I almost felt like I wanted even more. With its over 2 hour run time though, its hard not to understand why they did find themselves a little under used. I just wanted more, what can I say?
Honestly, the biggest flaw of the film was its plot. Not that the plot wasn't good and that the characters not intriguing, but that it was pretty basic. I've seen enough crime flicks to know all the details of how this film was going to play out after about the first 10 minutes. It was pretty cliche in many moments. Here's where it gets weird though. Despite this, Ben Affleck as a director ably makes the film feel rather fresh and still riveting. I knew how it was going to end, but I was still invested in it. Which I have to admit, was rather nice.
"The Town" may not be the most original film with its cliche crimes and basic characters, but with some solid acting, a solid directorial eye, and enough heart to cut stone with, this film pulls it off nicely. Perhaps not to the success that "Gone Baby Gone" was, but in its own way a rather wonderful film that kept me going with it.
Written By Matt Reifschneider