After his 2007 directorial debut with “Gone Baby Gone,” Ben Affleck was looked at as more than an actor. Now, after co-writing, directing and staring in, “The Town,” Affleck has elevated to a higher level. This of course wouldn’t be the case if his latest work was nothing short of spectacular. Alas, The Town is something that was meant to be real, gritty, traditional, and full of conflict (mainly self-conflict). The setting of Charlestown in Boston served as a microcosm for all the main motifs in the film, and illustrated and complimented all of the major themes perfectly.
Affleck, playing Doug McCray, is the leader of a crew of bank robbers who have done a few truck heists and bank robberies in their day. They seem to understand the hardnosed methods that it takes to get the job done. His loyal, and often trouble-inspiring friend, James Coughlin, (played by Jeremy Renner of The Hurt Locker) is one of the biggest pebbles in McCray’s shoe, serving as a constant reminder of his past, trying to trap him in his past. The cell that Coughlin has built for McCray is somewhat of a security blanket, but of course, is more of a mouse trap then anything.
Besides having issues with his best friend and his crew, McCray is forced to deal with the situation of falling in love with the one person who could cause trouble for him and his crew. This situation, paired with the upper-black hand of the neighborhood, who has plagued McCray’s family since he was a child – encompasses a great deal of stress and decision from McCray. While facing all of these troubles and trying to maintain a good record of decision making, McCray also has to deal with the FBI, headed by Mad Men’s Jon Hamm. Hamm does an incredible job at being the ball-busting, sleezy federal agent whose only goal is to capture his counterpart and put him in an electric chair. Like most federal agents, Hamm does a great job at being conniving and manipulating as he scares people into sharing information with him.
Still, there is faith of McCray that all will be well. For the 127 minutes of the movie, the viewer is a part of McCray’s crew. This makes the action scenes phenomenal. Car chase scenes are no different, this being said as the vehicles that are doing the majority of racing down Boston include a minivan and a Jeep. The backdrop of Charleston only adds to the originality and hardships that these men have dealt with. To the crew, the bank’s money, hoarded and invested in private wars is worth picking up arms and reclaiming.
This movie is for those who enjoyed Michael Mann’s, “Heat” and/or “Public Enemies.” Like Mann’s movies, its a testament to the spirit of the oppressed and poor and their rise to the top, via their own rules. An incredible movie, don’t stop yourself from seeing it twice in the theaters, just make sure you don’t succumb to temptation and go out an buy a Skeletor or ski mask after watching it.