Plot: When growing up in Charlestown, Massachusetts, bank robbery is almost inevitable. After his crew pulls another bank job, Doug MacRay (Ben Affleck) becomes infatuated with Claire (Rebecca Hall), one of the bank managers. This puts Doug at odds with James (Jeremy Renner), his fiery best friend and fellow crew member. Meanwhile, FBI Agent Adam Frawley (Jon Hamm) is determined to catch Doug and his men.
The Town is a good crime drama. The strongest part is the directing by Ben Affleck. He really sets up the environment and tone of this film perfectly. The setting of Charlestown, Massachusetts, considered one of the biggest havens for bank robberies in the country, is truly the star of the film. The place looks desolate and sad. It’s no wonder everything here often leads to crime.
This movie showed me why Jeremy Renner is quickly becoming one of my favorite actors. He does what he does best; plays crazy, just like in The Hurt Locker. Every time Renner’s character is on screen, you feel like he could blow up at any moment. He was a ticking time bomb, just fascinating to watch. The performance also gives you empathy for him even though this guy does some bad stuff. Jon Hamm is also stellar as the classic driven FBI agent who wants nothing more than to take down these bank robbers, but Hamm manages to keep it fresh. There is one scene in particular where he berates Affleck’s character, which is probably my favorite scene in the movie.
One of the weaknesses for me though was Affleck’s acting. The guy is a great director, and he gives an okay performance in this movie. You really like and root for his character, which cannot be said of other Affleck performances. But because he is the main character and holds so much weight in the film, I just kind of felt ‘meh’ on the acting. He has a lot of scenes with Renner, and he just can’t keep up. The relationship between these two characters is the heart of the movie though. You can tell Doug really hates being this guy’s friend, but there is also tremendous loyalty between them.
This was the only relationship I really cared about though. You don’t learn anything about the other two robbers in the crew and they have almost no distinct personality. And even though Rebecca Hall gives a good performance as the love interest to Affleck, there was nothing special about it. I just wasn’t emotionally invested on whether or not they would make it. The movie tries to sell sympathy for them with depressing back stories, but they weren’t subtle and felt forced. At times they were going through the motions. And that’s really my issue with the film overall. Aside from Renner’s character, I just wasn’t attached to any of these people like in other crime dramas, ala The Departed.
Although there are moments of greatness surrounding The Town, it was mired in a lot of mediocrity. There’s a solid car chase in here, and the climax is pretty damn good, which really brought the movie up for me. The final scene had the tension I’d been looking for throughout the movie. This is a good film that’s strength is in the directing but not in the characters.
Rating: 7 out of 10 (Good)