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The Town

Starring Ben Affleck
Screenplay by Peter Craig and Ben Affleck & Aaron Stockard
Based on the novel Prince of Thieves by Chuck Hogan
Directed by Ben Affleck

IN SHORT: A seriously excellent film. [Rated , R for Strong Violence, Pervasive Language, Some Sexuality and Drug Use.]

Doug MacRay (Ben Affleck) robs banks. He could have been a professional hockey player but, like a lot of idiot young adults, he pissed that chance away. So he is left with the family business; but while dad is serving 5 life sentences for his crimes, Doug and his crew execute highly planned, intricately choreographed and very profitable knock offs of armored cars. In the theft that kicks off The Town, we found ourself thinking of NFL football replays in slow motion . . . you'll understand when you see it. Dare we say it? The robbery was a thing of beauty

It is also vicious and violent and some people get hurt and bank manager Claire Keesey (Rebecca Hall) is taken hostage so, no, there is no sympathy for the devils of this crew on our part. During the robbery, though, one of the gang of four talks -- a definite no no -- and the hostage notices a tattoo on the back of the neck of one of the bad guys. That would be Jem (Jeremy Renner), a vicious lunatic who likes his machine gun way too much.

So . . . what does a bad guy do with a hostage, especially one who has heard the voice of one of the thieves? Well, yeah, but there wouldn't be much of a story left if (you) killed her, would there? Jem wants her dead. Doug overrules that wish and, strangely enough, when Claire recounts her traumatic experience to FBI Special Agent Frawley (Jon Hamm) she fails to mention the tattoo.

What's worse for all the bad guys -- hostage Claire lives in the same neighborhood that they do. Charlestown in Boston, where bank robbery is the primary job occupation for the young men of the street. Confident that his identity is still unknown to the (freed) hostage, Doug tracks her down and chats her up and, over a wee bit of time, emotions develop. The kind of emotions that, given that Doug has a tidy bit of change hidden away from the bank robbery, could turn a guy away from the dark side. That sort of decision does not sit well with a nasty looking guy (Pete Postlethwaite) who runs the robbery crew, and who has decided that the next gig will be to rob the local baseball park. Yeah, Fenway at the end of a four game Red Sox vs. Yankees series. It is an insanely brilliant plan and Doug wants nothing to do with it.

Of course, says the boss, it would be terrible if something happened to that lovely new girlfriend of yours . . .

Where The Town goes from there is not going to be told here. It doesn't go where you think it will, and even if you are the kind of person who lives to ruin the ending for others, it doesn't go where you could conceive. We know. We tried <g>

Director Affleck has pieced together a terrific movie. Each scene builds upon its predecessor. Every crisis gets trumped by something bigger. And there's enough gunfire by the time the final scenes are done that your ears will be ringing if your theater cranks the sound levels up too high. The only flaw, for us, is that we rarely can sympathize with a bad guy. Even as Affleck's character transforms, it didn't move us. Perhaps the Boston accents -- as thick as New England style clam chowder -- occasionally are too thick to understand, and we missed something important. No matter. The Town was a terrific sit.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Ten Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to The Town, he would have paid . . .


At the end of a long summer of truly lousy movies, The Town kicks off the fall in great style.

The Cranky Critic website is Copyright © 1995  -  2017  by Chuck Schwartz. Articles by Paul Fischer are Copyright © 1999 - 2006 Paul Fischer. All images, unless otherwise noted, are property of,©, ®, their respective studios and are used by permission. All Rights Reserved. Not to be used or copied for any commercial purpose. Academy Award(s) and Oscar®(s) are registered trademarks and service marks of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.