The Town has good actors, is well-made and has a couple of fun action scenes. That’s as simple as it gets, and is also part of the problem. Those are the only good elements, and since most of the film dwells on a story that is a little tough to believe, they get forgotten about. Make no mistake, there are times when I was interested, but for most of the film’s duration, I was not entertained.
The problem here primarily comes from the film’s genre. The Town is a heist film, although there is more than one of these throughout. The film opens with a group of four men robbing a bank and eventually taking the bank manager, Claire (Rebecca Hall), hostage. For some reason, they even take her driver’s license, and because they suspect she might talk to the FBI, they decide to have someone go keep an eye on her. Ben Affleck plays Doug, the man who volunteers for this job.
They first meet, (or meet for the second time, I suppose), at the laundromat. She initiates the conversation, asking Doug for a few quarters for the dryer. It eventually ends with Doug asking her out on a date, thus beginning their romance. He’s attracted to her because she’s unlike the rude, drunk or otherwise unsightly females that he normally associates with. And she likes him because, well, he’s the lead and there needs to be a forced love story that takes up far more of the plot than it should crammed in. I guess.
This relationship is something that Doug is worried about, because he was one of the robbers that kidnapped her in the film’s opening scene. She doesn’t seem to think that he had anything to do with it, despite constantly questioning her in regards to the FBI, and also knowing far more about crime life than someone who breaks up rocks for a living should. His explanation is that he watches a lot of CSI, and then sarcastically says that he must know everything there is to know because of this.
I wasn’t buying it. Claire seems smarter than this. She even tells him directly that she would be able to recognize the robbers’ voices if she heard them again, and since Doug, the “good guy” of the group, was the only one to directly speak to her, I don’t know why she wouldn’t recognize his. She’s far to unassuming considering how much he seems to care about the robbery, especially when she seems to only want to forget about it. Would a good boyfriend constantly remind his partner about something she wants to put in her past? Probably not.
This love story is also what dominates the picture. Since Doug becomes so head-over-heels in love with Claire, he decides that he’s going to change his life for the best, much to the chagrin of his best friend, Jem (Jeremy Renner). But he has to do one more job, in a plot point that has been done so many times before it’s not even funny. But skillful execution can make you forget that the plot isn’t that unique, and for most of the film, it’s made well, even though we’re mostly just listening to two people talking to one another.
The action scenes, when they do come around, are fun to watch. They’re action-packed, thrilling and all-around well-made. But they’re far too few and far between to engage us enough, and only seem to come around when the film seems to really lull. It’s just too bad that they wait about 30 minutes after this lull begins to show up, meaning we get a lot of time that’s boring to sit through.
The actors are good, except for Affleck, who comes across as fairly wooden. He doesn’t have a lot of emotion, even when he’s supposed to be intense, which makes some scenes feel like they have enough passion. Supporting actors like Chris Cooper, Jon Hamm and Jeremy Renner are very good though, and I wanted more of them. Cooper is Doug’s father, while Hamm is the FBI agent always on the bank robbers’ trail. Oh, and Blake Lively shows up for a few scenes as a single mother who Doug had a relationship with at some point, representing the exact type of person that he no longer wants to be involved with.
As a general rule, I’m not particularly fond of heist films. They usually follow certain conventions that more often than not take me out of the film. The Town tries to vary things up, making this love story the central focus. But it just doesn’t work here, with the actual heist scenes, despite falling into typical conventions, being far more exciting and entertaining. If you limited the relationship between Doug and Claire, or at least made it believable, you’d probably have a good film. But instead, we’re left with a mediocre film that has a lot of potential.
The Town has good actors who, for most of the time, do things we don’t care about. The focal point of the film is a love story between the two lead characters, but it’s not believable or worth caring about. The actual heist parts of the film, when characters perform robberies involving a lot of money, are fun and exciting, but they don’t happen often enough, or are not built up enough to make the film worth watching. It’s not a bad film, but it’s just not one that’s all that good. It’s there, it functions and that’s about it.