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Matt's The Town Review

Updated on August 23, 2011

No doubt about it, I’m a big fan of crime films, but unfortunately, good crime films are rare. Say what you like about Ben Affleck, but when he makes a movie in Boston, it’s always awesome - first Good Will Hunting, then Gone Baby Gone (his directorial debut), and now The Town, which is another winner. When I saw the trailer for The Town, I had a good feeling about it, and I wasn’t disappointed. The Town distinguishes itself within the crime genre by focusing not on the cat-and-mouse games the thieves play with the police, but on Doug’s (Ben Affleck) relationship with Claire (Rebecca Hall), who is a witness in a position to put him and the rest of his crew behind bars.


- The Town is drawing comparisons with two films, one is Gone Baby Gone, and the other is Heat. The general feel of the film is very similar to Gone Baby Gone, a good sign that Affleck is developing his own voice as a director, but Gone Baby Gone is not really an action film. Heat is another matter. Many people looking at the films side-by-side will notice the similarities, what really separates the two films is the fact that the focus of The Town is more on Doug’s (Ben Affleck) relationship with Claire (Rebecca Hall), as opposed to a battle of wits between the thieves and the cops. For the record, Heat and Gone Baby Gone are superior films, but The Town is hands down the best cops and robbers film I’ve seen since Heat (that is over 15 years, for those of you keeping track).

- Characterization – there is a huge emphasis on characterization in this film, there is a lot of action, but the action does not overwhelm the plot.

- Affleck knows what he’s doing behind the camera, no question. The man knows how to tell a story on camera, the script is well written, it’s well shot, and he knows how to do action like nobody’s business. I was very impressed.

- The director’s cut – Now that The Town is on DVD/Blu-ray, viewers of this film have a choice between the director’s cut and the theatrical version. Having seen both, I much prefer the director’s cut. It adds a lot of characterization to the film, it has better pacing and generally feels like a more complete and well-rounded film. The Theatrical release did not disappoint, but I thought the Director’s Cut was better.

(My last bullet in this section contains SPOILERS, so if you haven’t seen the Town, I recommend skipping down to the “Performances” section)

- I was very impressed with the extent that they used the environment to influence the characters. When Doug makes the decision to get out of Boston and the life for good, a lot of things play into that decision, his affection for Claire is only part of it. His disillusionment with the life had probably been building for a while, especially with his father in prison serving out a 40 year sentence. He has a whole slew of people in front of him including his ex Krista and best friend James, as examples of what he doesn’t want to become. It’s a very well-told story, next to nothing about the plot that doesn’t make sense.


- Ben Affleck is great in this film. He’s not the most talented performer in Hollywood, but he is good when he’s on his game – he’s proved that much before. He keeps the boyish charm to a bare minimum and plays Doug very understated – the result is a great contrast with Jeremy Renner’s character.

- Jeremy Renner practically seethes with rage in The Town. He turns in a performance that proves his Best Actor Oscar was no fluke. Renner is one of the few really great performers to surface in the last few years.

- How charming is Rebecca Hall? She brings a great girl-next-door down to earth quality to The Town. She was one of the few truly sympathetic characters in a movie full of shady characters.

- Let’s talk about Blake Lively for a second. I was frankly shocked by how good she was in this. Now I’m thinking her career is going to go a lot further than Gossip Girl. Only time will tell if I’m right about that.

Music, Cinematography and Special Effects

- The music is pretty subtly done, but I was expecting that. This isn’t the sort of film where you’d want the score to be too apparent. I rate it at effective, but not fantastic.

- How awesome is the cinematography in this film? Of course, it’s a well-shot film, but it’s really the locations that make the cinematography exciting. Affleck actually got to shoot inside Fenway Park – awesome.

- I haven’t seen shootouts this awesome in years, probably not since LA Confidential.

The Bottom Line

The Town is one of the most rock-solid action movies I’ve seen in years. Good characterization, good direction, and great performances, it has everything one needs in an action movie. Even the critics liked this one (Rotten Tomatoes has it at 94%). I thought this movie rocked! 9/10


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    • Drake0525 profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hey, thanks for reading and commenting!

      OK, Doug and his crew had a level of practicality when they were pulling off their jobs. There was friction with Jem and his tendency to resort to violence from minute one, mostly because in the event of getting caught, the possible incarceration would be much more severe if you add aggravated assault and murder to the sentence. They had no problem taking lives, but not if it wasn't necessary. There are two shootouts in The Town, and both times it is because they have no other options. Or at least, that's how I understood it.

      I didn't read into Doug's decision to leave Claire behind quite as much as you did - although I agree with most of what you said. I read his decision as being relatively simple, the FBI were on top of her, so there was no way they could get away clean if they left together. She was like to be under surveillance for some time after the events of the film, and Doug would've known that. He had to walk away.

      The other reason I liked Claire was she was a much stronger character than Eady from Heat, who nearly eloped with Neal at the end of that film. When Eady finds out what Neal does for a living, her reaction is similar to Claire's but Claire sticks to her convictions right up to the moment she decides to let Doug run at the end of the film.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      There are several reasons why Doug ended up leaving Claire behind when he skipped town for Florida.

      A) Doug was an armed robber, thug, and, as it turned out, a murderer on top of it (he killed Rusty and Fergie), and he'd been on the lam from the law for quite some time.

      B) Doug got what he really and truly wanted out of Claire; a promise from her not to turn him in, which he got.

      C) At some level, Doug knew that his days of hiding out down in Florida were numbered; that he'd be hunted down, caught (perhaps violently), and either tried and sent to prison for his crimes, or perhaps even gunned down by the Feds, and that Claire would be in the line of fire.

      I also might add that The Town also normalizes the Stockholm Syndrome and its inverse, the Lima Syndrome. One doesn't have to be in any of the helping professions (i. e. psychiatrist, psychologist, social worker, etc.) to realize that, while a person who's taken hostage and falls victim to the Stockholm Syndrome (i. e. falling in love with her captor) or the Lima Syndrome (i. e. accepting the overtures of her captor, who falls in love with her), presumably has a better chance of survival in a hostage situation, the victim, in either case, is turned into a person who is at her captor's beck and call, is manipulated and controlled by him, and is essentially brainwashed into believing that her captor cares enough about her not to kill her, and that he'll always treat her kindly and not abuse her. This couldn't be farther from the truth, especially because, all too often, the victim is isolated from her friends and loved ones, and begins to blame law officials and other authorities for her troubles and turn against them rather than her captor who committed this criminal act against her in the first place.

      That being said, I'd say that common sense is required, in order to at least minimize the possibility of having something like that happen to him or her; Just because one meets a charming guy or gal, doesn't mean that they're necessarily out for any good, particularly if one is in an area that's known to be tough, with a violent history to it. Anybody who meets someone that they've never seen before, no matter where they are, or how charming they may be, should be much more careful, and not be so quick to accept dates with someone or get into things with people they don't know that well.

      Claire was a woman who used no common sense what. so. ever, and she ended up having a breakdown when it finally backfired on her. Hey...if I'd known her in real life, I'd tell her.."Hey..don't you understand that if you play with fire, you're going to get burned? Think about that!"

      Supposed the bank manager hadn't been as angelic-looking as Claire, or had been someone with a learning/developmental disability such as autism, Aspergers, dyslexia, ADD/ADHD, or a seizure disorder? Do people honestly believe that Doug and his men would've even acted the least bit charming and sympathetic towards her? I don't think so. Doug would've allowed Jem to do whatever he wanted with her, and she probably would've been gang-raped or "offed" by Doug and his posse of armed criminals. Don't kid yourselves, guys!

      Doug, contrary to how he came across to Claire, wasn't a nice guy, even to her. He was playing her, and anybody who thinks that Doug and his men wouldn't have killed her if she'd resisted and refused to comply with them is just kidding themselves.

    • Drake0525 profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hey, thanks for commenting (twice)! I've never read the novel, but if you like the novel better, who am I to argue? Countless novels adapted to film, and so few of the adaptations turn out superior to the source material. Frawley is a good character, and Hamm played him beautifully. I might be one of the few that actually liked that ending though. Yes, he got away, but he had to leave the one he loved behind. A bittersweet finish if I ever saw one.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Actually, Agt. Frawley was one of the few people I sympathized with in The Town, especially because Claire helped make a dupe out of him by tipping off Doug to Frawley and the Feds' presence in her apartment, enabling Doug to elude the law.

    • Drake0525 profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Massachusetts

      Indeed, I liked that scene as well! His real challenge was the fact that his was most definitely a supporting role. He had to make a big impression with relatively little screen time. It was as good performance.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      The town is the end of a long road back for Ben Affleck - this is a movie that probably should have garnered him a Best Director award nomination. The biggest surprise for me was Jon Hamm, who was riveting in every scene in which he appeared. The scene in the bar with Blake Lively was just a terrific moment...

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I've seen The Town afew Times, twice in the theaters, when it first came out, and afew times on DVD, and have decided that this film is not only overrated, but I liked Chuck Hogan's novel, Prince of Thieves, on which The Town was based, a whole lot better.


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