Synopsis: "The Town" is the tale of four men -- thieves, rivals and friends -- being hunted through the streets of Boston by a tenacious FBI agent and a woman who might destroy them all. The book won the 2005 Hammett Prize for excellence in crime writing.
Marquee: Ben Affleck, Rebecca Hall, Jeremy Renner, Blake Lively
Boston drama The Town finds Ben Affleck as a man of many hats. He not only directed, co-produced and co-wrote the script, but he cast himself in the lead.
Adapted from Chuck Hogan's novel Prince of Thieves, The Town is named for Charlestown, a neighborhood that's given birth to more bank robbers and armored-car thieves than anywhere else in the world. (So we're told in the opening credits.)
As usual, the bandits in question run around in masks (first they're Skeletors, then they're nuns). And, as usual, romance follows their every move. Following suit, you know one of them's going to fall in love. One of them's going to have a short fuse. One of them's going to tire of the life and dream of getting out.
In short, The Town sticks to convention. Affleck plays Doug, the one who falls in love, in this case with a bank manager (Rebecca Hall) he helps abduct during the film's opening heist. His character is a bit less certain of things. The life of crime is the only one he knows, and he is good at what he does, but there are broad hints that his heart is no longer in it. His father (Chris Cooper), serving a life term in the penitentiary, is not much of a role model, and Doug’s best friend, Jim (Jeremy Renner), who is also a surrogate brother and stickup partner, is not about to let Doug leave. So he goes to A.A. meetings, guiltily sleeps with Jim’s sister (Blake Lively), more out of habit than passion, and dreams of escaping to Florida.
But The Town's real star is the town itself: its historic streets are utilized, in all their convoluted glory, for shoot-outs and chase scenes filmed with competent hustle. There's a touch of agitation in the camerawork, enough to lend an edge of rough-trade authenticity to the proceedings.
This wasn’t a new story. But it was entertaining.