Friday, September 24, 2010

Review: The Town (2010)

After seeing Ben Affleck's The Town twice now, I'm committed to the idea that it's a strong (if unspectacular) crime saga that has enough in the tank to grab you, reel you in and make you feel it, yet it never stirs things around and tries to construct something truly compelling - it just stays with the basic shapes, colors and forms. 

It's a much more muscular type of genre film from Affleck, maybe not as refined or authentic or intricately detailed as Gone Baby Gone, but something slick and streamlined. It's just that with The Town, you don't get any interesting flavors or textures to mull over or sink into - it's basically comfort food, a well-made cheeseburger with a few of the fixings - you know what you're getting. 

It's not Michael Mann or Christopher Nolan, whose work in the genre - from Heat to The Dark Knight - has an auteuristic, palpable sense of weight. The Town is a bit more old-fashioned and straight-laced and agreeable - basically Public Enemies without the digital period sheen, Elliot Goldenthal's score, Johnny Depp's underplayed performance and that killer fatalistic movie theater scene at the end.

With potentially hazardous and hoary material, luckily Affleck employs a sturdy hand to the action pieces (including a riveting back-alley car chase) and supplies a more-than-capable ensemble, including himself. 

As a Boston bank robber with daddy issues and a promising past, Affleck manages to make us take stock in his future as he falls for a potential witness (played by the always good Rebecca Hall). As Doug MacRay, he may have painted his antihero a bit too favorably, but the whole thing goes down smoothly enough to avoid major complaints - okay, maybe a bit too smoothly. [B]


  1. I thought Jeremy Renner was pretty good.

  2. I'm not normally a crime heist fan because they're so bleak and predictable; it's really hard to come up with any surprises that haven't been done too many times before (don't you just groan when every lead finally says "I just need to pull ONE MORE SCORE!"). But grounding this movie in a genius location solved that problem because it makes the characters so specific, and their choices all flow naturally from that work.