FILM RATING: 5 stars
(Upgraded from 4 to 5 stars on September 29, 2011)
I just saw Ben Affleck’s new movie The Town (2010) yesterday. Absolutely GREAT movie! It’s Affleck’s best acting since Good Will Hunting (1997), after years of fair and piss poor acting gigs. The Town is a “classic” Hollywood crime/heist/caper movie that follows in the footsteps of Heat (1995), Point Break (1991), Goodfellas (1990), and The Departed (2006). It doesn’t have any snazzy new special effects like all the latest Hollywood blockbusters, but this is just good solid movie storytelling. It’s clear to me that when Ben writes his roles, he plays his roles the best. And to add direction into the mix, he hit the perfect trifecta with The Town as writer/director/actor. Affleck’s directorial debut Gone Baby Gone (2007), with his brother Casey Affleck in the lead role, is also worth checking out. Both Affleck’s were in fine form on that flick. It’s not quite at the same level as The Town, but it’s a darn good movie (4 stars out of 5).
I can’t say the photography in The Town stood out from the pack, but the movie looked good, gritty and realistic (as the stills below show). The production design made you feel like you were right there in Baaahh-stun (Boston). What strikes me most about The Town is simply good old school movie making on the whole. And that’s what I like about this movie. Jeremy Renner is fantastic in his role as Ben Affleck’s best friend. He’s absolutely believable AND over the top, but you love him for it. Renner’s acting in this film is a notch above The Hurt Locker, where I also thought he shined. But in The Hurt Locker, Renner is understated and subtle in his acting compared to The Town. We’ve now seen an interesting range of skill from Renner and I have a feeling his newly juiced-up career will pay off for years to come, along with Ben Affleck. Jon Hamm plays the good guy in the film, an FBI agent chasing Affleck, Renner and the rest of the crew. It’s not Hamm’s best work like we’ve seen in the AMC TV series Mad Men, but it’s not bad either. It’s just not as well developed of a character since this movie is really centered around the bad guys. But Hamm is good and solid.
While elements of The Town definitely ring familiar from past movies like Heat, Point Break and even Good Will Hunting, those retreads didn’t bother me in this film. I think the story and the well-developed characters kept my attention, along with the incredible action scenes and sound. Sure we’ve seen masked bank robbers before, like the ex-presidents in Point Break, and the magic number of 4 bank robbers in a crew in both Heat and Point Break. Maybe it’s just been enough time since those classic 90s movies that it feels nicely retro. And for some reason, I never tire of shoot-em-up scenes in a downtown setting with incredible rapid fire gunplay sounds blasting through the speakers. All in all, The Town is one of the best films of 2010 so far, next to Inception, which is at the top of my list. I hope to see some Oscar love thrown at The Town, but it may get overlooked if the competition heats up with the rest of the movies released in the next 3 months. We’ll see!