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Movie Review: The Town

Prinz Lee image

Prinz Lee wrote this review 5 years ago

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Written 9/16/10

When’s the last time you heard the name Ben Affleck and actually gave a shit? Seriously, other than some mediocre films – with the exception of BOILER ROOM - having sniffed, eaten and tapped J-Lo’s ass, Co-Producing a fairly decent reality show pertaining to the movie business titled PROJECT GREENLIGHT, spicing up his resume with a directorial debut (GONE BABY GONE) three years ago and marrying/knocking up Jennifer Garner, why not raise the stakes by attempting to direct a second time, but allowing himself to star in the same film as well. I guess with a brief resume like this, most men I know would give their left nut to not only have endured such a lifestyle, but maintain continuity in order to keep his name somewhat immortal in the land of make-believe. Whether or not you give a shit when you hear the name Ben Affleck is irrelevant, because here’s a man that’s following the same path as many in show business (Example: SPIKE LEE, CLINT EASTWOOD, DENZEL WASHTINGTON) and practically saying in metaphoric form the world’s his oyster and sucking up all the nutrients.

GONE BABY GONE, which had some difficulties with its release due to coinciding with current events at the time with a specific family, finally unleashed a couple months after its official date and to much surprise not only was it respected, it also received pretty good reviews – I enjoyed it as well – and displayed another side to a guy whose celebrity was slowly fading due to bombs. Having directed his brother Casey, Ed Harris, Morgan Freeman and Michelle Monaghan in a tale which entails a cryptic story regarding an urban-based case about a missing child which is absorbed by a detective (Casey Affleck), it seemed as Ben’s artistic life had flipped and garnered new respect. Ben’s new found respect was so powerful, WARNER BROTHERS approved THE TOWN, however, I don’t know if it’s safe to say he’s bitten off more than he can chew, because not only is he behind the lens, but also in front of it. THE TOWN isn’t as detailed or defined as GONE BABY GONE, however, there’s something about Boston Ben feels he needs to get across. What that vision is only he’ll know, but it seems like he’s a native who enjoys exposing a certain aspect of his home other than The Red Sox, Celtics or its ever so distinctive Bah’ston accent.

A heist film is a heist film and for some reason HOLLYWOOD’S enjoyed presenting them during the last few years. In my eyes, the best heist films will be Mann’s HEAT and Tarantino’s RESIVOURE DOGS, other than that, everything else is simply generic, loose on some realities and what one may lack (TAKERS), the other will provide (THE TOWN). Truth is if you’re looking for a story where there’s good development among crooks, THE TOWN will provide that. Ben’s involvement with the film also entails some writing, and whatever influence he had among him and his co-stars (I.e. Jeremy Renner) simply works. The story goes deep within their childhoods and openly exposes the fact that the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree when having inherited the urge for fast money at any cost as the family history dates back to the guys’ dads and grand-dads. In this piece, Doug MacRay (Affleck) is an unrepentant criminal, the de facto leader of a group of ruthless bank robbers who pride themselves in stealing what they want and getting out clean. With no real attachments, Doug never has to fear losing anyone close to him. But that all changed on the gang's latest job, which turned out a bit dirty, when they briefly took a hostage--bank manager, Claire Keesey (Hall), though they let her go unharmed, Claire is nervously aware that the robbers know her name and where she lives. But she lets her guard down when she meets an unassuming and rather charming man named Doug not realizing that he is the same man who only days earlier had terrorized her. The instant attraction between them gradually turns into a passionate romance that threatens to take them both down a dangerous, and potentially deadly, path.

Unraveling just about every cliched possibility among these kinds of films, THE TOWN features the typical bad guy going good after a while swearing he’s in it one last time and that’s it. Of course much of that not only stems from the art of consciousness, but having falling for someone. In this case, the actual hostage who’s able to expose all sorts of vulnerabilities and start pushing in on the guilt factor…The love angle in this film doesn’t work as chemistry lacks so much, the relationship between Lisa Marie Presley and Michael Jackson seemed a lot more believable. I mean after a quick conversation, a drink, some small talk and obvious sex afterwards was just so off and coming from someone who has nothing but female friends, women don’t open up that quickly. Sure it’s a film and to a certain degree we must let go of reality, but that didn’t work at all – at least for me. Due to this piece in the story, it caused some dragging moments. I could have done less with the love story, however, on the flipside, I can see how it flared in the story as she’s pretty much the only hostage the FBI can have contact with seeing as they become aware of her developing relationship, therefore, a solid piece to their puzzle of crime solving pertaining to all sorts of bank and armored truck robberies going on the the town of Charlestown.

From one scene to the next, it’s a no-brainer of what’s to come. That being a full blown bullet rain between cops and robbers. One thing I found interesting about this film is how shoot-outs pretty much defined the film’s acts. It opened up with a robbery and some shots, it broke into its second act with a pretty cool car chase and shoot-out with cops and pretty much spent a majority of the last act’s ending with mother of all shoot-outs. From Fenway Park all through hidden blocks, Boston’s exposed in a cinematic tour and surely embraces all of its scenery as a city. I haven’t seen that much of Boston since, oh I don’t know, MISTIC RIVER...? Yea, I’d say that. Something cool about these scenes were costumes used in each and every single job. It started with the Skulls, then creepy nun masks – which I fucking loved and the more sophisticated costumes as cops to defy the odds and take Fenway Park for its only and biggest hit ever that would total a bit over three million dollars. It doesn’t lack in any way when building up in between jobs and reasons why each job must be done – especially as Doug (Affleck) digs deep within some questionable history between his parents which leads to a pretty cool scene between him and his father (Cooper) that lays out so much. What started off as a conversation without any emotions, leads to a passionate exchange of words leaving it open-ended and enticing Doug to push him even deeper into the thought of pulling out. This great chemistry also lends itself between the shaky relationship between Doug and Jim (Renner), who feels Doug owes him not only for his parents having taken him in as a kid when Doug’s parents failed him, but also the shaky relationship between Jim’s sister, Krista (Lively), and a questionable little girl who may or may not be Doug’s. Solid roles in this film are also thanks to Jon Hamm for having owned his character as a straight-forward no bullshit taking FBI agent and Pete Postlethwaite for his owning portrayal of the town’s – pun – Don-like godfather who plays it off a s florist, however, rules with an intimidating stare and grips the boys – especially Doug – which his contributions to his parent’s past.

With blends of what we’re all use to between cops, robbers, lovers, karma, plotting, threats and all that entails a bubble of action-packed drama, THE TOWN in the end is a pretty good film. I can’t say it’s the best, and perhaps Affleck may have blown his head up a bit with his first directorial debut by adding himself as a lead actor, but I’m sure he’ll stand strong this coming weekend at the box-office. I will say it was one of many anticipated films, and I know that may seem like a joke, but my hat’s off to Ben for his attempt at piecing together a film. It’s creative in its own way and at the same time present some downers like any film, but I’ve said it before, in the end you as an audience member decide if it works or not. I’ll end on this note, considering what’s opening this week, knock yourself out with this film – sure



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