The Town (2010)
The Town (2010)

Genre: Crime Drama and Heist Running Time: 2 hrs. 5 min.

Release Date: September 17th, 2010 MPAA Rating: R

Director: Ben Affleck Actors: Ben Affleck, Rebecca Hall, Jon Hamm, Jeremy Renner, Blake Lively, Pete Postlethwaite, Chris Cooper, Titus Welliver

 


 

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ne blue-collar Boston neighborhood has produced more bank robbers than anywhere else in the world: Charlestown. Law enforcement views it as a job passed down from father to son, as if any other profession worth keeping in the family. And so it is with Doug MacRay (Ben Affleck) as he takes down yet another bank (the Cambridge Merchants). He’s a little bit more compassionate with his victims – one of whom is manager Claire Keesey (Rebecca Hall) – despite donning a frightening skeleton-like mask and waving around a machine gun, but he’s still willing to use violence when necessary.

FBI agent Adam Frawley (Jon Hamm) heads the latest investigation into the heist, which grows more complicated when MacRay and chief accomplice – and loose-cannon – James Coughlin (Jeremy Renner) learn that Claire lives just four blocks from one of their safe houses. Hoping to keep her silenced through intimidation, Doug stalks her for a time, but realizes quite quickly that she’s already suffering psychologically from her workplace ordeal. Severely crossing the boundaries between his specific career choice and a dangerous key witness, Doug becomes romantically involved with Claire, who confides that she possesses some information that could take down the entirety of Doug’s crew.

Although the film is predominantly a crime thriller, full of bank robberies and hold-ups and physical violence, there’s plenty of time devoted to drama, particularly with the central romance, which gives MacRay a brief glimpse of a normal life away from dishonesty and ruthlessness. Sequences are also reserved for familial details, as Doug’s father Stephen (Chris Cooper) rots in jail, and Doug dwells on the unhappiness of his childhood. Clearly, the screenwriters hope to make the characters more multilayered or sympathetic than the typical participants in a cops-and-robbers narrative. Unfortunately, even if the acting is decent (Renner’s hotheaded brute is nicely unpredictable), the script doesn’t allow for genuinely engaging conversations or interactions. In many ways, it’s as if “The Town” is trying too hard to fit neatly into the formula of a heist movie; every beat is expected, from the robberies themselves to the dialogue between the crooks and the police to the getaways to the acts of revenge.

Smartly, not every holdup goes down smoothly, though this is anticipated too. Even when shootouts ensue or the FBI closes in, surprises are mostly absent. The slow building of the state’s case, dependent on keeping a distance and accruing proper evidence that can stick, allows for more drama than action, which would be suitable if the characters weren’t entirely disappointing. Making the wrong choices, associating with the wrong people (including a few who are conveniently evil just when they need to be, and a few who are major liabilities, as if by random luck), and not being in control of the various situations inspire contempt, not awe. And so, even with its flashy, edgy, rambunctious, nerve-wracking finale, the successes or failures of the rather distasteful antiheroes prove utterly inconsequential and uninspiring.

– Mike Massie

  • 4/10