The Town Review

September 21, 2010 at 10:59 pm (Movies)

In 2006 Martin Scorsese raked across the scene with a great little cops and gangsters film “The Departed”. Aside from his thick influence by the world of his home town in Boston, there are a lot of cues that Ben Affleck was influenced by Martin Scorsese’s masterwork in that same 2006 crime thriller, which in the wrong hands could have been a failed project of a film trying to be better than Scorsese’s work, but taking cues from that film and at the same time creating it’s own vibe in the way it paints a complex message surrounded by an authentic world crafted by Affleck. The film takes place in the hustle and bustle town of Charlestown, aka the bank robbery capitol of the world. Early in the film Affleck and his team take on what is supposed to be a routine bank job, until they’re forced to take the manager hostage. After releasing her they realize later on she lives within a mile of them, Affleck is sent to clean up their tracks, but ends up falling in love with her, setting into motion the rest of the chaotic, paranoia-inducing events of the film. Just like in 2006’s The Departed The Town is supported by a great cast making up its cops and robbers. Jon Hamm who’s gotten a lot of acclaim for his role in Mad Men sleazes it up as the villainous FBI Agent, and Blake Lively, although the trailers would lead you to think otherwise, has a few small parts in the film but when she’s on screen she’s a great compliment to things. Rebecca Hall, the main love interest, pulls a lot of the film’s dramatic moments and when she’s at her best the film hits some of its finest moments. Ben Affleck, the director and main character, isn’t going to win any awards for his performance, but has a subtle performance as the normal guy holding everything together, and many of the film’s moments of true tension comes from this guy’s quest of a new life, and the prevention of that because of his past. The best performer of show for me was Jeremy Renner, who was nominated for his role in The Hurt Locker last year, and is truly unstoppable in a couple of the film’s scenes as the loose cannon of the bank robber group, you’re never sure what’s going to happen when he’s on screen. It’s also worth mentioning Pete Postlethwaite shares some of the film’s best moments, and even though in a majority of those he’s cutting roses as a florist, he’s the fiercest florist you’ve ever seen. The film also has a great authenticity going for it. Affleck grew up in Boston, and you can really that not just in the way he shoots the film and captures these gorgeous pieces of landscape and monuments, but in his intense respect for the art of storytelling and action in any scene the film isn’t allowing you to breathe thanks to the fast-paced, high-tension feel of it all.

Affleck knows this city like the back of his hand. All of the streets have this great claustrophobic feel to them that only builds over time, and there are some moments in the film where he’s not afraid to just take in the beauty surrounding a very grim situation. Take for instance, a scene where Doug and Jem are going in to basically bust some heads. As they cross the street to get into the future victim’s apartment, Affleck gets a great shot of a beautiful memorial in the background. Why did he do this? He could have easily shot that 3 second scene anywhere else, but he knows what his audience appreciates. This being Affleck’s second feature film, it’s admirable how much finesse he shows in shooting his big action pieces. The guy has a great choreography to each of his fights so they have just enough emotional punch, and that they all mean something to the story. There’s a car chase about 3/4 of the way through the film that is easily one of my favorites in the past couple of years of film. However, when all is said and done, The Town is going to be remembered by me for not delivering a few great action pieces or having that peppered by a fantastic group of talented actors, but for me it’s going to be the story that Affleck produces amongst the gunfire and bad Irish stereotypes. Although it does make the film feel a little heavy length-wise (the film clocks in at a little over 2 hours, but it feels like a really long 2 hours), there’s a lot of time spent making sure these character’s resonate. You get to know them, learn their tendencies, how they react in situations, and it all builds and builds to help the overall impact of the movie. As you get to know who these characters are it makes the action scenes all the more tense because you truly know what’s at stake each time a bullet leaves the chamber. There’s no meaningless death made famous by the likes of Bruckheimer or Bay, but every time a character hits the ground, it’s something worth noticing. The series of events that take place in the film work in a way that allows the stakes to gradually build higher and higher in a really unique way. Without giving too much away, there’s a scene or two in the film that will have you cringing in your seat as you really explore the paranoia that comes with robbing banks, and Affleck (as a director at least) enjoys every second of it. All of this intercedes with the film’s incredible message (I’ll leave it to be a surprise for you all) that weaves in and throughout the film’s events in almost a Shakespearean way, and completely makes sense by the time the film fades to black. When I start to think about The Town, there’s only a couple of things I could point out as being a “fault”. As I said earlier the film did feel a little long even at the two hour span, but it never really drags, it just takes its time and covers a lot of ground. Another thing you could almost count Affleck to a fault for was being a little over-ambitious with his plot. He tries to get a lot of material in there, from the relationship between Doug and Jem’s sister that never really goes as far as it clearly wants to, to Jon Hamm’s role that’s never quite explained enough, there’s a little bit of room left to breathe in Affleck’s script that would have been nice to see explored in another 20-30 minutes. I know those two criticisms contradict each other, but I guess that’s how film journalism works some times. At the end of the day, it can be argued The Town is the best film in theaters now. The film deserves a truck load of Oscar love come March, and for a variety of reasons. The Town is a culmination of great performers, great writing, and great coordination by its director, it ends with a bang, and it’s a hard cinematic experience to forget.

3 1/2 out of 4

*This is obviously the written review of this film, the video review is going to be up in the next couple of days if you want to check out both or wait for that one, whatever floats your boat. I’m going to try giving video reviews a whack, may work it may not, but I’m in the process of editing it now. Also, the words I use here were not used as a script for the video review, so it could be entirely different.

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6 Comments

  1. darkcloak said,

    It was a very good movie. Just a little long for my taste though

  2. earlman27 said,

    Yeah it felt pretty drawn out, I’ll probably get it on DVD.

  3. The James said,

    sounds good, but I am afraid to watch such a long film… lol

    can’t wait for the video review!

  4. earlman27 said,

    It’s really only 2 hours, it just depends on the person on how long it feels lol but I get your point. Yeah hopefully I can get a video review up soon, I’ve been tinkering around with the new tech on my macbook for a while, there’s a built in program that creates podcasts for you and sends it to itunes.

  5. The James said,

    “It is only 2 hours” is like saying “He is only 7 feet tall”

    keep in mind, 80% of the films I watch are animated and last 1-1.5 hours. You know what a SW fanatic I am, and I barely have the patience to sit though 2 straight hours of it.

  6. earlman27 said,

    Maybe it’s because I watch a lot of long films, but 2 hours really doesn’t seem that long. 2 1/2 hours… Oh yeah… But 2 hours most of the time is a good round-about length.

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