The Town

Directed By: Ben Affleck

Starring: Ben Affleck, Rebecca Hall, Jon Hamm, and Jeremy Renner

Doug MacRay: “I need your help. I can't tell you what it is, you can never ask me about it later, and we're gonna hurt some people.”
James Coughlin: “...Whose car are we gonna' take?”
-Ben Affleck & Jeremy Renner, The Town

Are movies the only thing that can motivate members of Congress these days?  Before a vote in the House of Representatives on the debt ceiling last year, House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy decided to rally the troops by playing a clip from The Town in lieu of making some tired, motivational speech.  Highlighted in the above quote, the interaction in the clip between Ben Affleck’s Doug MacRay and Jeremy Renner’s James Coughlin is classic.  Basically, MacRay consorts with Coughlin to go hurt some folks.  Coughlin just can’t know whom he’s hurting or the reason for which he’s hurting them.  That’s a crime flick at its absolute best, and maybe Kevin McCarthy recognizes that.  I have my doubts though.  Like Coughlin, Congressmen do plenty of stuff without knowing what the hell they’re actually doing.

A neighborhood in Boston named Charlestown is known for one thing—producing more bank robbers than any other part of the city.  Longtime friends Doug MacRay (Affleck) and Jem Coughlin (Renner) are among the dozens of bank robbers from this part of town.  Along with their friends Gloansy Magloan (Slaine) and Dez Elden (Owen Burke), they rob a bank in Boston and take the manager Claire Keesey (Rebecca Hall) hostage as they try to escape.  Once they’ve lost their heat, they let Claire go.  Upon regrouping, the friends decide to have Doug monitor Claire to ensure that she knows nothing and will tell nothing to the cops.  When Doug actually meets Claire, a romance begins.  While Claire is unaware that he is actually one of the men who kidnapped her on that fateful day, Doug realizes the dangerous nature of their relationship and what it could mean for both of them if Jem or his other friends find out about it.  Meanwhile, FBI Special Agent Adam Frawley (Jon Hamm) is working vigorously to put an end to the robberies in Boston and is hot on the trail of the four criminals.

The Town comes from a long tradition of crime flicks that depict Boston at its worst.  Just think back on films like Mystic River, The Departed, and Ben Affleck’s directorial debut Gone Baby Gone.  With this being his second foray into directing a film about crime in his hometown, Affleck is clearly in his comfort zone.  He puts together a pulse-pounding, action-packed crime thriller that will keep you on the edge of your seat from start to finish.  The only problem is that The Town is dealing with well-treaded territory.  The film doesn’t do or show anything we haven’t seen in other movies.

Like any good crime flick, there is certainly some great acting in The Town.  The two standouts are Jeremy Renner and Rebecca Hall.  Both Renner and Hall show off their acting prowess in different ways throughout the film.  Renner gives the film the badass it so desperately needs, while Hall gives a powerful, emotive performance as Claire Keesey that adds a certain gravitas to the movie.  Both of these talented actors have risen to fame in recent years, and I hope to see more great performances from them in years to come.

Overall, The Town is a great flick.  It just doesn’t offer a whole lot of originality.  Because of this, the plot is fairly predictable.  If The Town had come out 10 to 15 years ago, I probably would have given it a sober rating.  As it stands, that’s not the case.  Ben Affleck’s second directorial effort gets a 0.03% rating.  Have some wine coolers with this one.