Matt's The Town Review
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