Ben Affleck’s “The Town” 2010

The gritty streets of Boston have been the backdrop for many memorable films: “The Edge of Darkness,” “Mystic River,” “The Departed,” and “Gone, Baby, Gone.”  “The Town” is likely to be the next in this line-up of movies that people will remember Boston for. 

In the film, Ben Affleck plays the lead role of Doug MacRay, a citizen of Charlestown, Mass, a suburb of Boston known for its criminal breeding ground.  MacRay and his posse are a gang of thieves, mostly known for hijacking armored cars and robbing banks.  Upon robbing one particular bank in Charlestown, the gang has an incident, and to get away, they take the bank manager hostage.  After dropping her away from the scene, MacRay follows her to make sure she doesn’t remember anything that will be able to give him or his comrades to the feds.  Upon getting to know her, he begins to fall for her, and the two embark upon a messy journey of a relationship.  There is a great deal of tension surrounding the story, with some unexpected twists and turns, and the viewer is left guessing right until the very end about how the relationship, as well as MacRay’s fate, will end. 

Affleck’s acting ability is mediocre at best, and that has been proven throughout his career.  However, he does a fine job as MacRay, and portraying a citizen from his hometown helps him be more believable.  Still, his supporting cast far outshines his own acting, doing an unbelievable and impressive job.  Blake Lively breaks from her norm as a socialite and teen queen to portray a junkie young mother, and she does a stellar job.  This will likely lead to more stereotype-breaking roles for the young actress.  Jon Hamm, known for his Emmy Award-winning role in the television series “Mad Men” gives audiences his usual perfection, with the subtlety and charm that only he possesses and will hopefully earn him an Oscar nod.  Jeremy Renner proves to moviegoers yet again why he indeed is one of the most outstanding actors of our time, portraying James Coughlin, MacRay’s best friend and fellow gang member.  Rebecca Hall does a wonderful job as the bank manager and will hopefully be recognized to do more leading roles in the future.  Finally, the cameos made by both Chris Cooper and Pete Postelthwaite were both memorable and incredible, and while that is to be expected from actors of their caliber, it is still refreshing for audiences to see.

Affleck already proved that he had directing chops in 2007 with his debut of “Gone, Baby, Gone,” and most of us remember his excellent screenplay that made him famous in 1997 for “Good Will Hunting.”  It seems that time has only increased Ben’s behind-the-scenes abilities in his new film.  He was a key writer of the screenplay for “The Town,” and, once again, his script was phenomenal.  There were a lot of fantastic lines throughout the film, and the little quips and witticisms throughout were very clever and well placed.  The team of Aaron Stockard, Peter Craig, and Ben Affleck involved in this screenplay was very well put together and thought out.  Affleck also does another sensational job as director.  His uncompromising style reflected the realism of the film incredibly well, defining every moment and truly making the streets alive.  His utilization of Robert Elswit (“There Will Be Blood,” “Heist,” “Salt,” and “Magnolia”) for the cinematography was also a smart choice, as his style is equally unyielding and palpable.  The soundtrack could have been a little better.  David Buckley and Harry Gregson-Williams collaborated on the original score, and it comes off a bit awkward, almost as though they are trying to recreate what Hans Zimmer has done in all of his recent Chris Nolan films.  While this is a bit distracting, it does not deteriorate too much from the rest of the movie.

All in all, “The Town” was a very good movie.  Excellent directing, intelligent script, and marvelous acting.  While the supporting cast may outshine Affleck’s acting ability, he makes up for what he lacks in front of the camera in his behind-the-scenes work.  This is definitely a should-see film, and it will likely have several Oscar nods this awards season.

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