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The Town--A Movie so Bad that it's Good:
The Town: So Bad That It's Good:
Based on Chuck Hogan's book "Prince of Thieves", the movie "The Town" is about 4 bank robbers from the Charlestown section of Boston, who are friends and rivals at the same time. Directed by Ben Affleck, who stars as Doug MacRay, the leader of the bandits, who's a bit smarter and more emotionally stable than the others (though that doesn't make him a nice guy.), who blew his chance of avoiding his bank-robbing, permanently incarcerated father's footsteps and becoming a pro hockey player, The Town, unfortunately, is pulled down by its own weight, in more ways than one.
Ben Affleck, who's clearly better behind the camera, took on the role of Doug MacRay, the leading character in The Town, and bit off way more than he was able to chew, which is clearly indicated by somewhat awkward acting (Ben Affleck's not that good an actor, anyway), and rather phony, overdone Boston accents on his part.
The same could be said for the female lead, Rebecca Hall, who plays the role of Claire Keesey, whose bank that Doug MacRay and his buddies/crime accomplices robbed at gunpoint, took as a hostage after the crazed "Jem" (Doug's right-hand man, played by Jeremy Renner, and the only really believable character in The Town.), beat Claire Keesey's assistant manager nearly to death, permanently injuring him.
So, Doug wants to prevent his crazy friend "Jem" from harming or possibly killing Claire, so he starts to follow her around, first from a distance, and then more closely, to see what she knows, and Doug and Claire ultimately begin a romance. The Doug-Claire romance is not only immature and underdeveloped, but, in both the book and the movie, the Doug-Claire romance takes up much too much of the story.
Doug and his buddies are being pursued by Special FBI Agt. Adam Frawley (played by Jon Hamm), who is on a mission to bring Doug and his bank-robbing friends to justice before the law, by having them tried, charged with and imprisoned in a Federal penitentiary for their crimes.
Doug follows Claire around, goes into the C-Town laundromat where she's doing laundry, and pretends to be reading the paper. Claire asks him for some change--he has none, she sees a blood-stained blouse of hers, remembers the robbery and the near-fatal beating of her assistant manager, and begins to weep. Doug joshes Claire to make her relax, asks her out for a drink, and their romance begins.
Claire has no idea that the handsome guy she's been dating, and who purchases her a small diamond necklace as a present, is the very guy that, along with his buddies/accomplices in crime, had robbed her bank at gunpoint while wearing skull-masks, forcing her to open the safe, nearly killed her assistant manager, and ultimately terrorized her and took her as a hostage before letting her go.
Shortly thereafter, Claire is interviewed by FBI Agt. Adam Frawley, of the Boston Robbery Task force and who's been assigned to bring Doug and his men to justice before the law. While she and Doug are having a bite to eat at a Dunkin' Donuts nearby, Claire denies to the Feds that she saw anything that could present evidence to the FBI ("Jem's "fighting Irish tattoo on the back of his neck.), she does personally admit to Doug that she lied to the FBI when she denied seeing Jem's tattoo on the back of his neck. When Doug starts asking Claire all kinds of questions, and spieling off to her about his presumed knowledge of the criminal justice system, and watching a lot of TV (CSI and Bones), it's a wonder that Claire doesn't pick up the hint about who Doug was and what he was up to, bail on him right away, and seek help from FBI Agt. Frawley. Imho, a saavier, more street-wise woman than Claire would've done precisely that.
Shortly thereafter, Claire tells Doug about how she was yelled at, and had bottles thrown at her by two guys living in a C-Town project, while she'd been walking through the projects to get somewhere. Doug goes to his friend, Jem's house, and enlists Jem, who's the most violent of Doug and his bandits, to help him beat up the two Dominican men who'd thrown bottles at Claire. Doug and Jem break into the C-Town project apartment of the two Dominican men in question, while wearing masks, beat them, seriously cripple them, and order them out of Charlestown, without telling them why.
Not long afterwards, Doug and Claire eat lunch at a pizzeria, and, before "Jem" comes along and crashes their date, Claire confides to Doug that her little brother died of lymphoma on a sunny day, and that sunny days made her think of someone dying.
Shortly thereafter, Doug arrives at Claire's condominium one night, pours out his heart to her in confiding in her about how he'd destroyed his chances of becoming a pro Hockey player, after Claire, who volunteers at the C-Town Boys & Girls Club full time (she'd quit her job as a bank manager after Doug and his men robbed her at gunpoint and almost killed her assistant manager.), and then they end up having sexual relations in bed.
The car chases through the North End, as well as the shoot-outs in the North End and Fenway Park between Doug, his men and the laws, imho, are totally unrealistic; I mean...how could Doug and his men have done all that torching of get- away cars and evading police during car chases without endangering residences, business, or residents themselves? Realistically, it wouldn't be possible. There'd be bloodied and/or broken bodies all over the place, in either instance.
Then there's Jem's sister, Krista, the slatternly, drugged-addicted single mother of baby daughter, Shyne, who's also Doug MacRay's former girlfriend, who only had a sexual relationship with Doug, MacRay, who has broken it off with Krista in exchange for Claire. After another bank robbery, where Doug and his men wind up almost killing a guard, there's the Fenway Park robbery.
Krista, however, ends up in a DUI accident, where she is injured, ends up in the MGH Emergency room, and is visited by FBI Agt. Frawley, who has gotten a call from Krista. Partly due to being threatened by Agt. Frawley with the loss of her daughter Shyne, and partly out of revenge for Doug's having spurned her for Claire, Krista violates Charlestown's code of Silence and rats Doug and his accomplices out by telling FBI Agt. Frawley about the upcoming robbery of Fenway Park that Doug MacRay and his friends have planned.
As a result, there is a shoot-out between the law and Doug MacRay and his men. All of Doug's men, except Doug MacRay himself, are killed in that shoot-out, Doug goes back to Charlestown and guns down his crime boss, "Fergie" the flower shop manager, and his henchman Rusty, after learning about how Fergie essentially killed his mom by getting her addicted to heroin, and by sterilizing Doug's father, as well, and to also keep Claire safe, after Fergie had threatened to go after her, as well.
After Claire learns who Doug was and what he was up to, courtesy of FBI Agt. Frawley, she kicks Doug MacRay out of her Charlestown condominium (Claire was a suburban woman who purchased or rented a Charlestown condominium.), when he tries to explain that he'd meant to come clean about who he was the other night when he'd had sex with her, and is asked by Claire "Is that the night that you f**ked me? Is that your thing?" It's not enough to terrorize someone--you have to f**k them too?", and absolutely breaks down sobbing. Yet, Claire allows Doug to sweet-talk her into (sort of) taking him back when he comes to visit her while working in her garden, and asking her to come to Florida with him. They ultimately decide that Doug should come to her house, and they'd leave for Florida together from there.
Meanwhile, Frawley and his men are also at Claire's condominium, as a last-ditch attempt at catching Doug MacRay and bringing him to justice before the law. At the last minute, however, Claire warns Doug away with a "sunny days" code, and Doug skips town for Florida, without Claire. At that point, FBI Agt. Frawley tells his men to "pack it up", because Doug MacRay ain't coming. Get the description out. We'll find him, wherever he is." FBI Agt. Frawley, now quite pissed off at Claire for having help Doug become a fugitive from the law with her "Sunny Days" warning to him, says to her, in rather acid tones "You know, Claire, we are a national organization." Claire's rather corrupt lawyer says to her "That was the best possible outcome." Had Claire's lawyer not been so corrupt, he would've realized that he, too, was violating the law, by encouraging Claire to abet Doug, a known violent criminal with a long criminal record of violent crimes (i. e. armed robbery, assault and first-degree murder (of Fergie and Rusty) on top of it all), and pointedly told her that what she was doing could put her whole future at risk. It was also clear, that, as FBI Agt. Frawley said to Claire "I guess he (meaning Doug MacRay) didn't have as big a thing for you as he thought", and then Claire said, rather haughtily and bitchily, "I guess not."
Although Doug had been talking about leaving Charlestown and taking Claire with him, his fate is clearly sealed after he has gunned down Fergie and Rusty; he ultimately skips town for Florida without Claire, leaving a duffle bag full of stolen, blood-stained money for her in her community Charlestown garden, which she spends on renovating the run-down, seedy C-Town ice hockey rink (Plus a fare-well, I'll always love you--see you this side or the other" note), in honor of Doug MacRay's mother, Doris, who she'd never met in her life.
Doug is then seen in a little bungalow overlooking a bayou in Florida, and, most probably, imho, spends the rest of his life looking over his shoulder, for the FBI, being a national organization, as Frawley said, will find Doug MacRay, wherever he is, and bring him to trial and prison for his crimes, where he belongs.
Meanwhile, Claire is only too happy to go on with her life, without Doug.
Imho, The Town sends a message that people don't have to be held accountable for what they do, that arrogance and stupidity are the order of the day, and that it's okay to deliberately and knowingly make total dupes out of law-enforcement people who are trying to do their assigned jobs of bringing known violent criminals/felons to justice before the law. Claire got off scott-free, with the money that she spend on the C-town hockey rink, instead of anonymously arranging to turn Doug's blood-stained loot money over to the proper authorities and procuring the money for the renovation of the C-Town hockey rink in a more honest way. When Claire acts arrogant towards Frawley when he visits her house to share photos of Doug and his men, and sees the necklace that Doug purchased for her, he realizes that the necklace was from Doug, himself, and had clearly been bought by Doug's loot money.
Claire, imho, should've at least been put on some sort of probation for being an accessory to Doug MacRay and his crimes, and receiving stolen goods (Doug's loot money), with no right of appeal if she violated that probation.
The fact that Claire is defended against the guys who'd thrown bottles at her, imho, is rather disgusting. My, my...Claire must feel really honored here, if one gets the drift. (please note the sarcasm in the second comment in this paragraph.)
There's no real chemistry between Doug and Claire to begin with...they are like too very young teens who're out on their first date. The romance is totally underdeveloped, and Krista, is not that well-developed in the film, either, although it's clear that Krista's more in with Doug and his men than the film reveals.
Rebecca Hall, imho, doesn't seem very spirited in her role as Claire. Imho, had the role of Claire been played with more of an "edge" to her, it would've been more credible. FBI Agt, Adam Frawley, and Dino Ciampa, imo, were among the few believable characters in The Town, not to mention the ones who I admittedly sympathized with.
I was sympathetic with Claire at first, because the fact that her bank was robbed by Doug and his bandits at gunpoint (who were wearing masks to avoid being identified) abducted and taken hostage, was not her fault, but the choices that she made afterwards (i. e. not sizing Doug up and picking up on who he was before getting involved in a romance with him, refusing to sever all contacts with Doug even after learning who he was and what he was really up to, accepting an expensive diamond necklace from Doug, and deliberately subverting the law, thereby protecting Doug, and making total dupes out of FBI Agt. Frawley and his men, who were assigned to bring Doug and his men to be tried, charged with and imprisoned for their crimes.). Moreover, the fact that neither Doug or Claire suffered any (real) punishment for what they did delivers the message that anything goes, and that lack of accountability for one's actions and behaviors is the order of the day.
The Town, imho, is not a very good film, it has a very poor cast, with some exceptions, and it's a very hyped-up, cheesy, junky film that's more like a feature-length, made-for-TV soap opera than a regular movie.
The Town fell way short of the potential for being a really good, or even a great film that was right up there with West Side Story, for all the above-mentioned reasons and more. It began to really fall apart during the North End Robbery, and the second half of the film generally. It tries so hard to be a great film, that it's not even good, imho.
The Town is also good, however, in that it has led to many lively discussions on imdv.com and other blogs.