The Town, written by Peter Craig, Ben Affleck and Aaron Stockard, based on Prince of Thieves by Chuck Hogan, directed by Ben Affleck, starring Ben Affleck (Doug MacRay), Rebecca Hall (Claire Keesey), Jon Hamm (FBI Agent Frawley), Jeremy Renner (Jem Coughlin), Blake Lively (Krista Coughlin) and Pete Postlethwaite (Fergus) (2010): Affleck’s second directorial effort (after Gone Baby Gone, which starred his brother Casey) is yet another meditation on the criminal weirdness of Boston.
Affleck plays Doug MacRay, an ace bank and armoured-truck robber from the lower-class Boston ghetto of Charlestown. He longs to escape his life even as he plans and executes robberies with his gang, all working for a demonic ‘florist’ played by the late, great Pete Postlethwaite. Loose cannon Jem (The Hurt Locker’s Jeremy Renner in a pudgy, glowering performance that dominates the screen whenever he’s on it) takes a female bank manager hostage during the bank robbery that opens the movie, a no-no as far as MacRay is concerned.
Incognito, MacRay checks up on her after the robbery, and finds himself falling in love with her, and she with him. Meanwhile, FBI agent Frawley (Jon Hamm in a nicely arrogant, somewhat oily turn) seems to be closing in on the gang. And the florist demands yet another heist out of Doug’s gang…and then another, even bigger heist.
Affleck is solid as recovering addict MacRay, as are all the other actors, even Blake Lively, whose enormous boobs do about 75% of her acting for her. The rote action sequences undermine a lot of the drama of the movie — bullets are sprayed around like we’re in The Expendables 2, but cause even fewer casualties. Still, the performances and the grubby sense of place Affleck conjures up make the whole thing worthwhile. Recommended.