Director: Ben Affleck
Starring: Ben Affleck; Rebecca Hall; John Hamm; Jeremy Renner.
Plot: As he plans his next job, a longtime thief tries to balance his feelings for a bank manager connected to one of his earlier heists, as well as the FBI agent looking to bring him and his crew down.
This Ben Affleck directed picture really suffers from an identity crisis, yet you’ll be oddly enthralled.
The Town (2010), is one part heist movie and one part romantic drama, and it’s this odd mesh of styles and stories that makes this picture as enticing as it is unusual, courtesy of some very smart storytelling from Ben Affleck and company.
The Town instantly thrusts you into the action of a bank robbery, with the focus being set solely on the manager of whom Affleck falls for when following her as a part of his post-job “insurance policy”. From there, parallels in the humanity and inhumanity of Affleck (the bank robber) and Hamm (the FBI agent) provide an intriguing back drop for a feature length game of cat and mouse. This story arc is positively enthralling, with the personal relationship between Affleck’s character Doug MacRay and James Coughlin (Renner) stretching thinner as a result of this cat and mouse game. It is here where the movie truly shines as it is Renner’s performance as Coughlin that truly stands out from the pack in a movie that’s filled with good performances. Renner’s hard-headed, borderline psychotic, best friend character is one that is hard to feel empathy towards – which is important with regard to establishing the differences in criminality between MacRay and others – and is ultimately the largest force of emotion in the picture. This does, then, eliminate the “love interest” story arc from the top of the list of what is good and right about the film, and with good reason.
The “love interest” angle, was a sweet disposition to juxtapose against the violent lifestyle of the MacRay character, but it was ultimately the absolute epitome of melodrama in a picture that clearly didn’t need the angle. In this regard, The Town’s romantic scenes should be seen merely as idealistic from the point of view of MacRay and not at all as realistic and insightful as the rest of the picture. At least I hope so, because otherwise it was one side of the picture that really shouldn’t have been there.
Overall, this is a good movie, but nothing more. It’s enticing, with a sensational Jeremy Renner performance and efficient direction from Affleck, but it’s not going to hook you quite as much as the next heist film because of its lost identity. Unfortunately, this also removes it from the realm of “ultimate love story” too, despite how the ending credits music may try to convince you otherwise.