Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Genre: Drama, Heist, ActionOpens Friday, September 17th, 2010
Rated R (Run Time: 2 hours and 4 minutes)
Starring: Ben Affleck, Rebecca Hall, Jon Hamm, Jeremy Renner
Directed by Ben Affleck (Gone, Baby, Gone)
How long does a movie have to be around before it can be called a "modern classic"? Welcome to "The Town": a gritty, violent, thrilling, breath-taking, and entertaining film that is easily....easily!...the best film of 2010.
Plot. The movie revolves around Doug McRay (Affleck) and his band of ruthless bank robbers. But it is much more than your average heist movie. "The Town" is in reference to Charlestown, MA, a dangerous little town near Boston. As we're told in the film, there are nearly 300 bank robberies in Boston each year, mostly by professionals, and the vast majority of them come from the one-square mile town of Charlestown. Yes, the movie is about Doug McRay, but we get the feeling that his journey could be representative of anybody from this area...it is a film about the challenge of rising above, and overcoming your roots, and if that's even possible.
Of the 4 thieves, Doug is closest to James "Gem" Coughlin (Renner). During a heist, they end up taking a banker (Hall) hostage. Though she never sees her abducters, the crew is scared that she may have saw something, and she ends up living only a few blocks away. After her release they decide to "take care of the problem." Doug follows her, and in an attempt to get close to her to find out what she knows, he gets too close. He falls in love, and his love for her deepens his need to want to "get out" of his profession and start a new life, with her. Problem is, she isn't aware of who he is, plus, she's working with the Feds on solving the bank robbery. He is also feeling pressure from Gem, and a local mob-boss, who don't benefit from Doug walking away.
Authenticity. The movie is layered so richly, and brilliantly. The action takes a back-seat to the real story, which are the characters. These characters are so real, even the extras look as if they were plucked off of a Charlestown street. Everyone speaks in thick Bostonian accents. We learn background about these people. We feel for them. We understand their struggles. We know that it is not a black & white decision to just "get out", it's not that easy...there are so many other things at stake.
A Game of Cat & Mouse. The movie's plot could be described as your average "cat & mouse" chase, where the bad-ass intelligent cops (Jon Hamm & Titus Welliver) are one-step behind Doug & his crew, who know every escape trick in the book. But it is made more than that by the performances. As the film moves along, and the crew gets deeper and deeper, the stakes get higher and higher. In a way it's like watching Titanic, or following a character like Vic Mackie on The Shield...You know there is no way that it can end well...but you watch, hoping to be wrong. That's not a giveaway, as the ending may end up going in directions you don't expect. Never have I felt so breathless for so long watching a film...I do believe I waited until the credits before giving an exhale.
The Showdown. Hamm is a brilliant counter-point to Affleck, and watching this movie I was reminded also of the movie "Heat" (a movie I liked a lot that was critically panned). In that movie, there was intense build up for when DeNiro and Pacino were finally going to face off. Well, the eventual face off between Hamm and Affleck, was what that scene was meant to be.
Lights, Camera, Action. Aside from the wonderful performances and gripping plot, the action and suspense are top-notch. "The Town" features what may be the best car-chase sequence in film history. The "edge of my seat" is an understatement...there were moments where I wanted to stand up and jump around, cheering Doug and his boys along.
The Curious Case of Ben Affleck. Ben Affleck, at first was a promising young actor and writer, but soon became a punchline. As a director and as an actor, it is now 100% accurate to call him one of the best of both currently working in Hollywood. Following up Gone, Baby, Gone with The Town is like following up Godfather with Godfather II. Affleck lives and breathes Boston, and these two films portray the area in a true way never realized on film before now. He is carving out an identity related to the city, much like Woody Allen has done with New York. I can't wait to see him branch out with his filmmaking, but if the quality lives up to these two films, I wouldn't mind returning to the Boston area again sometime soon.
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