We went and caught The Town the other night, the first time I’ve abandoned the effervescent Chris Hopper Louzader for a movie review in recent memory. That’s okay, though, since she was off partying in that most party-centric of states, Wisconsin. And lately, EVERY movie we’ve caught together has been a grade A turd of a clunker, so methinks she’s got the bad JuJu and unwittingly curses cinematic output. Don’t tell her I said that.
The Town. The premise, according to IMDb goes like this: “As he plans his next job, a longtime thief tries to balance his feelings for a bank manager connected to one of his earlier heists, as well as the FBI agent looking to bring him and his crew down.” This dances scarily close to the edge of a formulaic movie plot, and I was wary, especially since I’m no Ben Affleck superfan (at least, not since Good Will Hunting) and he wrote, directed and starred in this effort. I was prepared to be underwhelmed into a popcorn-laced stupor.
I could not have been more wrong.
This movie kicks ass. A lot of it.
Ben Affleck, as Doug MacRay, is the quintessential Bostonian that I conjure up in my mind: gritty, wicked accent with no discernible use of the letter “r”, former hockey player and tons of Irish references. He’s perfect in a restrained and melancholy way, playing the part with an authenticity only a true Bostonian can bring. His pseudo-“brother”, James Coughlin, is executed flawlessly by Jeremy Renner, who, despite the undertones early on that foreshadow his fate, nails the role down. He is always “on” as a character, and is able to engender empathy, despite his scumbag persona. The whole movie sets up with a self-aware, self-loathing tone from the first scenes that lead the viewer to form an allegiance with the bad guys. So much so, in fact, you almost find yourself rooting for a car bomb to take out zealous FBI agent Adam Frawley (another picture perfect portrayal, this time by Slick Guy Du Jour Jon Hamm). Wait, aren’t they the good guys? Doesn’t matter by movies end. The loyalty you might feel for the gang of bank robbers trying to sort their way out of the despair that is their home town also manifests as a sub-story of the movie itself: loyalty. Loyalty to those we love, loyalty to our roots and loyalty to our brothers.
As MacRay remains torn between loyalty to the only life he’s known and an opportunity at love and escape, one thing becomes abundantly clear: Affleck is clearly a talented filmmaker, writer and actor, especially when given the chance to shine the spotlight on his home territory. And as long as Jenifer Lopez never sets foot in Bean Town, I think his efforts will keep getting better.
Intense acting, intense movie and stellar results.
Overall Movie Score: Very Solid A