Overlooked Film of the Week- #68
Who would have known that Ben Affleck, the pretty boy from “Armageddon” and “Pearl Harbor” and “Dazed and Confused” would ever be a director worth discussing and debating? If you had told me that nearly ten years ago, I would have laughed. Now, after three superb movies, it is hard not thinking of him as a director. I am happy he took up the job, because he has become an artist to look for. “The Town” came out in 2010, and it didn’t receive the Oscar attention that “Gone Baby Gone” and “Argo” did. “The Town” is a completely different animal compared to Affleck’s other two directorial pieces; “The Town” only wants to please. It is pieces of other crime movies and action movies. But that doesn’t mean that Affleck is not able to entertain to the biggest of degrees. Affleck created something worthwhile and something definitely memorable and its crushing that “The Town” is not on the same par as his other two films.
“The Town” revolves around Doug MacRay (Ben Affleck) and James Coughlin (Jeremy Renner), two highly professional bank robbers. They operate outside of Charlestown, a suburb of Boston, Massachusetts. As the film opens, MacRay, Coughlin and their crew hold up a bank that is managed by Claire Keesey (Rebecca Hall) and they accidently take her hostage after a silent alarm has been pulled. A few days after MacRay and Coughlin contemplate what to do about their situation. They usually do not take hostages, but after the alarm, Coughlin felt they had to choice. MacRay volunteers to meet her as a normal person to make sure she cannot I.D. the other robbers. Wouldn’t you know that Claire and MacRay really take off and they become romantically involved. MacRay has to try to lead a double life, one where he sees Claire and another as a professional bank robber. All the while trying to avoid the FBI, lead by Special Agent Adam Frawley (Jon Hamm).
Like I said, this is a big action movie. What makes the movie better than usual is the excellent work by actors. Affleck invites Renner, Hamm and Hall to play in his movie. He also invited usual collaborators Titus Welliver and Slaine, as well as Blake Lively, Chris Cooper and Peter Postlethwaite. This is one of the best ensembles for an action movie to be cast in a film in the last five years. MacRay is one of the best roles in Affleck’s career; Affleck is badass and tough without looking silly. Renner is being a classic Renner here, but it works after every single frame. Cooper, Postlewaithe, Hamm, Welliver and Slaine are all excellent. The most intriguing work is done by the women, the women elevate the material. I never was a huge fan of Lively, I just thought that was a pretty face that was totally devoid of talent. Here, she disappears into her role in a way that I didn’t think was possible for her. I also enjoyed the work done by Rebecca Hall as the moral center of the entire film, she is adorable and how her character kind of falls from innocence is heartbreaking and harrowing.
There are moments of tense action, there are moments of sincere drama, and there are moments of gritty crime stuff. I liked every moment of the film, and it is a great showcase for Ben Affleck. “The Town,” alongside “Gone Baby Gone” and “Argo” show just how special Affleck is in the director’s chair. It is the films in his filmography that show just how cool it would have been if Affleck directed “Justice League” or “The Stand,” no need weeping over what could have been, especially for a guy who has a bright future.