Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Town (2010 film)

Based on Chuck Hogan’s novel Prince of Thieves, The Town is the story of a bank robber who meets and falls for a bank manager whose bank was robbed as he and his gang is being pursued by authorities. Directed and starring Ben Affleck and screenplay by Affleck, Peter Craig, and Aaron Stockard, the film is a bank robbery drama that is filled with elements of the caper genre as Affleck sets the film in his native Boston. Also starring Rebecca Hall, Jeremy Renner, Blake Lively, Jon Hamm, Pete Postlethwaite, Slaine, Owen Burke, Titus Welliver, and Chris Cooper. The Town is a masterfully-crafted and thrilling heist drama from Ben Affleck.

After a robbery in Charlestown near Boston where a bank manager named Claire Keesey (Rebecca Hall) was taken hostage for the duration as the event left her traumatized. Later interrogated by FBI agent Adam Frawley (Jon Hamm), Claire talks about what she can remember as Frawley wants to lead the investigation over the robbery. Meanwhile, Doug MacRay (Ben Affleck), Jem Coughlin (Jeremy Renner), Gloansy Magloan (Slaine) and Dez Elden (Owen Burke) go over the take as they believe that Claire has talked to the FBI. While Jem wants to get rid of her, Doug decides to do the job where he would later meet her as he starts to get to know her without wanting to do anything.

With Frawley and his partner Dino Ciampa (Titus Welliver) making theories about the robbery that they believe is connected to reputed crime boss Fergie Colm (Pete Postlethwaite), they start to target Doug and his team since Doug’s father Stephen (Chris Cooper) is already serving a life sentence. Doug and Claire’s relationship starts to grow after Doug told a very personal story about how his mother left him when he was six though Jem remains suspicious about what Doug is doing. Still, Doug’s time with Claire gives him enough reasons to want to leave the life of crime after another heist that nearly goes bad. Frawley’s investigation has Doug, Jem, Gloansy, and Dez being interrogated by Frawley and his men about the recent robberies.

Though there wasn’t enough evidence to incriminate them, Frawley still decides to pursue them after learning that Doug is dating Claire as he decides to go after by revealing to her the truth. With Doug wanting to leave Charlestown and Boston as he tells Jem, Jem doesn’t like the idea as he reveals that Fergie wants them to do a job. Doug says no as he decides to tell Fergie himself only to realize that he’ll have to as Fergie decides to target Claire. With Doug deciding to do the job and tell Claire who he is and what he needs to do, Frawley decides to find out what will happen next as he targets Jem’s younger sister Krista (Blake Lively) for information on the job.

The film is a heist drama where a bank robber who was the son of a bank robber decides to give up the life of crime after falling for the bank manager he had taken hostage in a previous heist. Wanting to leave this life that he knew as it was passed down from his incarcerated father, he is forced to deal with loyal friends, a FBI agent, and a crime boss whose power reaches beyond the city of Boston that can put this man in check. The screenplay that Ben Affleck, Peter Craig, and Aaron Stockard create is brilliant for the way the heists are set-up and how everyone tries to do everything else afterwards while leading normal lives in their downtime. While there’s different narratives that would follow the actions of Doug and Frawley, the latter of which is trying to capture lead the hunt for Doug and crew.

Both men are presented in different ways where Doug is a criminal that does bad things but wants to try and keep things low key as he later decides to leave the life of crime. Frawley is just a guy that is just doing his job though he will do things to get answers that seem questionable although he’s not really a bad guy. Other characters like Jem and Claire are just as complex as Jem is just a criminal that wants to do what he feels is right and doing it carefully so he wouldn’t have to go back to prison after serving nine years for killing someone. Claire is also interesting because she is just this traumatized woman who doesn’t reveal everything in her interrogation as she befriends this guy while wanting to get her life back in order. The one character that doesn’t really work is Jem’s sister Krista since she’s only there as a plot device late in the film as it’s the one character that is badly underwritten.

Ben Affleck’s direction is definitely engaging for the way the heist scenes is played out while it’s the set-up and planning that is just as interesting. Shot on location in Boston, the film opens up with quotes about the world of Charlestown and its history of crime as it then goes into this amazing heist that moves a bit fast but also slows down to maintain the tension that occurs. While Affleck manages to keep things exciting and thrilling in these heist scenes with car chases and shootouts along with more low-key moments. He also balances it out with understated dramatic moments where it is about this man trying to help out this woman he had robbed without her knowing what he did.

With simple medium compositions and some camera movements to play out the drama. Affleck is able to keep the dramatic moments simple with bits of humor while also creating tension for scenes when Doug has to deal with Jem, Frawley, and Fergie in different situations. Notably as it would involve revelations that would add to Doug’s own understanding about his mother’s disappearance and why his father went to prison. Overall, Affleck creates a very smart and mesmerizing heist-drama that does a lot for what is expected in the genre and more.

Cinematographer Robert Elswit does a brilliant job with the film‘s photography filled with blue and green colors to exemplify the look of Boston with a bit of dark textures for some of the film‘s nighttime interior settings. Editor Dylan Tichenor does excellent work with the editing to play up the energy of the chase scenes while slowing things down for the film‘s tense heist scenes with its methodical pacing. Production designer Sharon Seymour, with set decorator Maggie Martin and art director Peter Borck, does terrific work with the set pieces for the film such as the banks and homes of the characters while a lot of the locations are actual sets including the climatic heist at Fenway Park.

Costume designer Susan Matheson does very good work with the costumes such as the masks Doug and the gang wear in the heists to more casual clothing for the rest of the characters. Sound editors Aaron Glascock and Curt Schulkey do amazing work with the sound work to capture the tense atmosphere of the climatic Fenway Park heist to the chaos of the chase with screeching tires and police sirens. The film’s score by Harry Gregson-Williams and David Buckley is wonderful for its bombastic and energetic orchestral score for some of the film‘s heist scenes along with more low-key piano-driven pieces to play up some of the drama in the film.

The casting by Lora Kennedy is superb for the ensemble that is created as it includes small appearances Dennis McLaughlin as Fergie’s henchman Rusty, Titus Welliver as Frawley’s partner Ciampa, Victor Garber as a bank manager in the opening heist scene, and Chris Cooper in a small but memorable role as Doug’s incarcerated father Stephen. Other notable small roles include Slaine and Owen Burke in their respective roles as robbers Gloansy and Dez while Pete Postlethwaite is great as the very chilling crime boss Fergie. Blake Lively is pretty unremarkable as the very underwritten role of Doug’s ex-girlfriend/Jem’s sister Krista as she is often seen drunk and desperate as it’s just a very bad performance.

Jon Hamm is incredible as the cunning FBI agent Frawley who is willing to go to great lengths to capture Doug and Jem while is willing to do things that are questionable though effective. Jeremy Renner is brilliant as Doug’s best friend Jem who is this aggressive robber that isn’t afraid to do what is needed as he tries to understand why Doug wants out as it’s one of Renner’s best performances. Rebecca Hall is phenomenal as Claire who tries to deal with the trauma of being robbed as she finds comfort in Doug’s presence only to be more troubled by who he really is. Ben Affleck is excellent as lead bank robber Doug who tries to come to terms with his criminal life as he seeks a way out while dealing with all of the consequences as he tries to redeem himself.

The Town is a rich and engaging heist-drama from Ben Affleck that features a terrific ensemble that includes Affleck, Rebecca Hall, Jeremy Renner, and Jon Hamm. Fans of heist films will definitely enjoy the film for the way the heist is played out and set-up along with the tension that occurs. Notably as Affleck creates a film that doesn’t stray into conventions and keep things simple with its drama and suspense. In the end, The Town is a remarkable film from Ben Affleck.

Ben Affleck Films: (Gone Baby Gone) - Argo - (Live by Night) - Air (2023)

© thevoid99 2012


s. said...

Great review! I really enjoyed the film especially because of the performances - Hamm and Lively really surprised me and Renner was fantastic.

thevoid99 said...

Thanks. I was surprised by the film and how good it was.

My only qualm was Blake Lively because it wasn't because her character was underwritten but I was annoyed by her performance.

Anonymous said...

It's funny that you reviewed this for today because I just watched this a couple of day's ago and realized that it's just a really fun flick. Everybody is great here and I can definitely see why Renner got nominated for his work here. Dude's going to win an Oscar soon and I will have no problems with it either. Nice review bud.

thevoid99 said...

@Dan-I watched it yesterday just to get a few films out of the way on my big TV DVR as it's nearly running out of HD space. It was worth it. I agree about Jeremy Renner. I can't believe the stoner from National Lampoon's Senior Trip is now a respected actor.