Thursday, September 30, 2010

Review: The Town (2010)

Director: Ben Affleck
Starring: Ben Affleck, Rebecca Hall, John Hamm, Jeremy Renner

Ben Affleck as a director is actually a pretty promising prospect, if we’re to draw any conclusions from the success of his previous film, the fantastic Gone Baby Gone. So you can bet when I saw the trailer for this new movie called The Town that I was excited. I was especially stoked to see the images of guys in nun masks robbing banks in a fashion similar to the great opening scene from The Dark Knight, or other similarly ass-kicking flicks. This looked like a pretty friggin’ awesome movie. And did it deliver?

Well, I will say I enjoyed it. It’s a lot more of a romance than is let on by the trailer, with a good quarter of it being devoted to Affleck’s budding relationship with the young bank teller woman who he and his cronies had previously kidnapped while masked. There’s a conflict with the pressure on Affleck from his thugs on doing ‘one last job,’ but even then, it’s still a pretty mellowed out film for a good chunk of its first half. After the initial heist scene, that is – which is excellently done, with a big explosion of tension and a great fast pace; wonderful way to start off a movie.

The directing here is really good. Affleck has an eye for some good shots, as is shown when we see Rebecca Hall’s character Claire standing on the beach, and he really excels at the action scenes, which are gritty, paced at the speed of light and tons of fun to watch. These will really put you on the edge of your seat – I particularly liked the first real chase scene, where the camera shakes so violently that it’s like you’re right there with the car, holding on for dear sweet life. And the shots of Boston do well to set up the atmosphere of this gritty film.

The acting is OK. Rebecca Hall does a very good job as the leading lady, as she is cute and down to Earth, without any kind of Hollywood gloss. Ben Affleck does an alright job, very workmanlike, but enough to make you believe that he is who he says he is. Jeremy Renner, fresh off The Hurt Locker, is probably my favorite here, as his character is just so much fun to watch. He plays Affleck’s old childhood friend who now assists him in every heist they do, along with two other guys, and he pretty much steals every scene he’s in with his expertly thuggish, vulture-like demeanor and cutting dialogue delivery.

“We gotta do somethin'. I can't tell you what it is, you can never ask me about it after we're done, and we're gonna hurt some people. “

“…Whose car we takin'?”

So really, the first two acts of this movie are fun, engaging and atmospheric, with the alternating drama, romance and action making a trifecta of entertainment that will keep you watching. I did think it went downhill with the slightly bloated last third of it, but not so much that I wasn’t entertained anyway. It’s schmaltzy, it’s idealized and it’s romantic, but it’s a good, simple story, and it kept me entertained. The Town was not quite the masterwork I expected it to be, and it could have been a little darker and more dramatic, but as it is, it’s worth your 8 bucks at the theater. Go see it.