Ben Affleck Finds His Form in The Town

Jake Moser

Ben Affleck has shown he can work both sides of the camera effectively in his box-office hit, “The Town”, a dramatic thriller that truly shows the hard work put into this film.  The Town is a major improvement over his past directing performances such as Gone Baby Gone, which he directed in 2007.

The film follows a group of criminal friends in the blue-collar neighborhood of Charlestown, Massachusetts, the armed robbery capital of the United States.  The story dives into what happens when one of these criminals tries to leave the unlawful life he has known his whole life.

Affleck does a remarkable job of directing brilliant performances by cast members, as well as his brilliant performance on camera as Doug MacRay, the criminal son of an inmate (Chris Cooper) in Massachusetts Correctional Institution—Cedar Junction in Walpole. He has an insignificant day job with a gravel company, but mostly he is involved in illegal activities with his best pal, Jem Coughlin, played by Jeremy Renner from the award winning movie The Hurt Locker, for the local crime boss (Pete Postlethwaite) who covers as a florist. Their illegal activities mostly include bank heists. During a big robbery, Doug and James take a nervous bank manager, Claire Keesy (Rebecca Hall), hostage.  From that point on Doug falls for Claire and their lives change drastically.
It’s easy to see why Doug is drawn to Claire, who represents a shot at redemption. She works in a community garden and has a serene, sunny personality. She is the complete opposite of the tough women Doug knows from Charlestown particularly Jem’s sister— Krista (Blake Lively), who is hopelessly in love with Doug.  Persistent FBI Agent Frawley (Jon Hamm) is on Doug and Jem’s trail throughout the entire film, always just steps away from nabbing them while also keeping an eye on Claire, the robbery’s main witness.

Despite the extraordinary acting performances, the plot is nothing we have not seen before.  The idea of bank robberies, gun fights, and car chases have been used dozens of times.  Also there are a few key points at the end of the movie that go unresolved, and leave you saying. “Wait…what about Krista?” or “What happens to Claire and Doug?”  What makes this movie great; however, are the spectacular acting performances.  Jeremy Renner does a perfect tough guy impersonation which is in stark contrast to Affleck’s character’s calm and collective persona.  Also, Blake Lively does a terrific job as Affleck’s former love interest.  Lively does extraordinary with her gritty personality and the use of that thick Boston accent that she went to a dialect coach to learn.
The bank robbery scenes are extremely exciting, and the film is certainly not lacking in guns or car chases, making this a dependable two-hour visit to the movies.  Although The Town has some minor problems, the pros far outweigh the cons.  If The Town was a bank heist, it would get away with the money in every register and safe, but miss out once in a life-time score because the police were in hot pursuit.