It’s not often a director brings his hometown into his films, from both a realistic and reference standpoint.  Martin Scorsese has done this, using the backdrop of NYC at least seven times over the years, a place he has called home his entire life.  This type of perspective can go a long way in creating a practical feel and tone to the story, which as a result will draw the audience in.  With his first two films “Gone Baby Gone” and “The Town,” Ben Affleck has followed that ideal of using his hometown of Boston as his ‘muse,’ which as a result has produced two extremely engaging films to take in.

The story, which is based from the Chuck Hogan novel Prince of Thieves, follows a group of bank robbers in a suburb of Boston known only as Charlestown.  This group, which was led and orchestrated by Doug MacRay (Ben Affleck), a former NHL dropout, was extremely close and had worked together for a good while. So, they obviously knew what they were doing, later getting dubbed “the not screwin” around crew’ by lead FBI agent Adam Frawley (Jon Hamm) who was assigned the task of finding and bringing them to justice.  But, when a heist goes array, they are forced to take a bank manager hostage by the name of Claire (Rebecca Hall), starting a series of events that not only would stretch the limits of their crew, but open Doug’s eyes to a whole new world outside Charlestown.  It was then this story turned from your average bank robber’s paradise to a struggle about what’s important in life and how one can get stuck doing something they really hate doing, but have no idea how to get out of resulting in a somewhat predictable, yet satisfying conclusion.

When most people see Ben Affleck’s name, a certain uneasiness sets in due to all the shenanigans that went on when he was dating Jennifer Lopez.  And that’s too bad, as that period of time only lasted two years, but in Hollywood that’s a lifetime and the main reason why Affleck fell so far after his less than favorable film “Gigli,” which also starred his ex-fiancé Lopez.  Sure, he popped back up a few times, but for the most part, his name wasn’t worth much until his work with “Gone Baby Gone” got noticed. Having written the screenplay as well as directed the critically acclaimed 2007 film, Affleck was back and I was glad to see it.  And with this film, he continued that brilliance as he not only added his unique touch behind the camera, but also showed he still has it in front of the camera too. That tells you everything you need to know about his character as a writer, director and actor. Having said that, he brought in quite the group of supporting talent, as everyone seemed to fit so well into the story taking place.  Talent like Jeremy Renner, Jon Hamm, Rebecca Hall and Blake Lively all lent a hand in making this film go places it might not have gone without them.  

It’s hard to believe this is only Ben Affleck’s second film behind the camera. Not one to ever really “go too far” with anything, I can honestly say Affleck is one dynamic filmmaker.  And I know some might think it’s too soon to praise his talents, but after films like “Gone Baby Gone” and “The Town,” I’m convinced this guy is for real.  That doesn’t mean he’s the next Martin Scorsese or anything, it just means he knows what he’s doing behind the camera.  We already knew he could write, simply based on the Oscar he and Matt Damon won for “Good Will Hunting.”

So for him to now combine those talents into directing is truly special and something I will continue to follow.  His camerawork in and out of the action sequences, along with the overhead shots of Boston were amazing at times allowing you to feel all the drama, no matter how raw it was.  Affleck certainly didn’t hold back, and I think that’s something that is taken too lightly these days when it comes to directing, so kudos to him for not shying away from those “tough” moments within the script, which was very well crafted.  I’ll be honest, when I first sat down to watch “The Town,” I really didn’t know what expect from a story that seemed to resemble something we have seen before.  But, I trusted Ben Affleck and his ability to keep it all in front of him, which in the end was the recipe for success and why this makes for a great stocking stuffer or Blockbuster rental on Christmas Eve.

A-

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