Movie review – Affleck gets down and dirty in bank-heist heaven

2011-01-02 16:14

Film: The Town (Nu Metro)

Director: Ben Affleck

Featuring : Ben Affleck, Jeremy Renner, Rebecca Hall and Jon


Rating: 8/10

You must have hair on your chest to survive The Town, which doesn’t

mean that women should head for the nearest exit.

It’s just that the film calls a spade a spade. So when there’s a

violent confrontation or a brutal bank robbery it doesn’t shy away from graphic

details or disintegrating jaw bones.

This is one tough action movie, but it’s

not purely exploitation. There is actually some subtext beneath all the blood,

guts and mayhem.

It concerns a group of fearless bank robbers used to getting away

with the loot and hitching a cool chick along the way.

That’s exactly what

happens to the charismatic leader of the pack, Doug, played by Ben Affleck, who

orchestrates the perfect heist but discards the most important rule: do not fall

in love with one of the hostages.

He holds the bank manager, Claire Keesey (Rebecca Hall) hostage.

She doesn’t know who he is behind his abominable mask, so the crux of the matter

is: once these two start an affair will she discover his true identity? And can

true love survive that kind of deceit?

The film is action-packed and tautly directed. Affleck is not just

a pretty face; he is in perfect control of his material and steers the action

with a sure and competent hand.

But what could garner the film an ­Oscar nomination is the more

intimate and personal love story.

It shows how an arrogant and emotionless bank

robber can change into somebody with a conscience, so the film does take a moral

route as it examines what emotions and love can do to a would-be


The film is also gritty and tough-looking right from its opening


Shot in Boston, which is known as the bank heist capital of America

(hence the name The Town), Affleck looks behind the picture- postcard curtain of

one of America’s most beautiful cities to expose the seedy underbelly where

psychopaths like James Coughlin (Jeremy Renner) thrive.

Renner, fresh from his success as the tough-talking soldier in The

Hurt Locker, gets a chance to showcase his acting, especially in a scene where

the Hall character remembers a tattoo on one of the bank robbers’ necks and has

a conversation with Renner without his mask, while the audience holds their

breath: will she identify the tattoo or not?

The Town will therefore appeal to both the more sophisticated

audience which likes a good, solid film with subtext, as well as action junkies

who can’t wait for the next chase or jaw-breaking fight.

Finally, after the promising Gone, ­Baby, Gone, Affleck has proven

that he is going to turn into a director of note.

Recommended for a gritty night at the movies.

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