Ok. The Town. Based on Chuck Hogan’s novel ‘Prince of Thieves‘. Co-scripted, directed by, and starring Mr Ben Affleck. The novel and the film is based in Charlestown, a neighbourhood of one of my favourite cities: Boston, Massachusetts.
I want to start here with a word about Ben Affleck. I was there, man. I was there when Good Will Hunting hit. And it was good. And Ben Affleck was good. He was funny, tough, and with enough good looks to be a movie star but to also seem accessible to average, middle of the road ladies like myself. And, ok, Armageddon was a bit naff, and he couldn’t sincerely cry for crap, but still–when DON’T you want to watch a movie about space with Bruce Willis in it? Then, somehow, somewhere, someway…he got lost. Ben Affleck got lost. Some say it began with Forces of Nature. Others, the majority perhaps, say Pearl Harbor. Either way–BOOM. His name, especially once combined with La Lopez, became a joke. Despite his talent, his intelligence, his look, and even despite his acting chops–he was down for the count. In fact, he supposedly didn’t even want his name on Gone Baby Gone for fear of the public and movie critics bad-mouthing it just because his name was associated (I read that somewhere, and now can’t remember where. Sorry.). THAT’S how bad it got people.
Then comes Director Ben. With his director hat on, it seems like Ben Affleck has redeemed himself in film critics’ collective, judgemental eyes. Gone Baby Gone was a critical success, and so has been The Town.
Personally, I am all for a Ben Affleck reboot. I so liked him better than Matt Damon back in the day.
Anyway, back to the movie. The movie concerns 4 friends who like robbing banks. They’ve made a business out of it, and business is good. They kick a bit up to a local mafia-type guy called ‘Fergie’ aka ‘The Florist’ (…because he has a flower shop–genius!), who seems to find the guys jobs to work. This role is played by the late, awesome Peter Postlethwaite. He should have been in the movie more. Not just because he recently died, but because he’s awesome. He even put on an Irish accent. The lead, Doug, is played by Affleck, whose mother is long gone and whose father is behind bars for what one guesses is bank-robbery (cue ‘Bankrobber’ by The Clash. They don’t play it in the film though–I guess its too cliché. And even though Doug’s dad WAS a bank robber–I don’t know if he never hurt nobody). Doug is basically a soft little mollusc with a hard outer shell. A tough guy with a heart of gold, if you will. Doug was taken when his dad was sent up by his best friend James “Jem” Coughlin’s family. You soon learn that Jem is a hardcase. He’s nuts, basically. Through the film he gets more and more violent, and seems to put the rest of the crew in danger.
The opening of the film show’s a bank heist. Its cool, fairly calm (save Jem’s burst of violence on Victor Garber’s face), and awesomely efficient. Where Jem is mental, Doug is collected and even helps calm down bank manager Claire, who starts to freak when trying to open the vault. For whatever reason, the alarm gets triggered and Jem takes Claire hostage. They don’t hurt her, but blindfold and cuff her, and eventually leave here by the shore. You find out that they steal her license, and Jem wants to ‘take care of her’. The others think she’s scared and don’t know anything, so Doug decides to check up on her. He ends up really liking her. To the point where they start to date. Jem soon finds out. He gives Doug a bit of shit for it, but then lays off. However, soon Doug wants to stop going on the rob. Jem won’t let him. And neither will Fergie–who let’s Doug in on a few home truths. Literally. He ends up in this pickle–pull one last job to protect his new lady, and to ‘pay back’ his pal Jem for saving his life years ago (and serving 9 years jail time)–or run away. He goes with the former.
Also, in the midst of all this buddy-related drama, sits the FBI who have been trying to stop all these crazy bank robberies. John Hamm plays a pretty good Fed. He hauls the boys in, but gets nowhere. He then tries to find the weakest link, which he DOES in Jem’s sister, and once love interest to Dougie (and sometimes still bang-buddy), Krista–who is seemingly always doped up.He THEN presents the facts to Claire, who goes ballistic (fair enough) on Doug and tells him to never come near her again.
The last job is Fenway Park, and as Fergie tells them–they’re go
ing to hit up ‘the cathedral of Boston’. It so is by the way. I used to live across the street from there. See the Citgo sign in that picture–yeah, I used to live in the building underneath it.
Ok–I’ve given most of the plot away, but I won’t tell you the ending. But SPOILER ALERT: Claire does sortof forgive him. And Doug goes away. That’s it, that’s all I’m saying.
I liked this movie. I watched it, and was into it. BUT–afterwards…it felt a bit basic. That, when you actually think about it, its like a lot of other heist movies. You WANT to like the robbers…even though they’re the baddies. You know some shit is going to go wrong somewhere. You KNOW the girl is going to find out the truth about the guy’s past. Even the ultimatum given by his best friend is fairly basic plot fodder. It was in Save the Last Dance for Peter Pan’s sake. You get some background to the characters, but not much, save for Doug. Doug and Jem–that’s about it. The other two dudes–I can’t even remember their names. Seriously. I get it though–the tough spot between wanting to live your own life and wanting to be there for family and friends. The realities of trying to get out of a bad situation. Its not cool, granted. But its been done, that’s all I’m saying.
And ok, one last SPOILER: Doug gives Claire a bag full of money…and a tangerine (why? Its a hint. But honestly, I didn’t get it until JUST NOW). And she TAKES it. I’m not sure I like that about her. But whatever.
What I did like was most of the characters. Claire was good, cut somewhat like Skylar in Good Will Hunting, perhaps, but a completely different character in total. And Rebecca Hall is always a delight. Jeremy Renner was nominated for an Oscar for his portrayal of Jem–but sometimes, I think they nominate people who are the craziest. Not that he didn’t deserve it. He did crazy and scary really well. I liked the feel of the film–all the shots of various parts of Boston. I did say I loved Boston, right? But still–it gave you an idea of what was what. Of where these people came from. I liked the pace of the film. I liked the action sequences, especially the opening heist. Although, it was recently done in The Dark Knight–although in a much more psychotic way. In total, it made a good film, but plot wise…I’m not so sure its going up there with The Usual Suspects or…some other great movies involving crime. But hey–watch it.
But HURRAH! Ben Affleck is back! And PLEASE, for all of us, DO NOT MAKE ANOTHER MICHAEL BAY FILM. Thank you.