Star cast: Ben Affleck, Rebecca Hall, Jon Hamm, Jeremy Renner.
Plot: Ben Affleck and his group of ruthless bank robbers in Charlestown, Boston, take hostage a bank manager, Rebecca Hall. Though they release her, Ben meets her again and falls in love with her. But she is unaware of his identity as a bank robber. Haunted by the FBI and his father’s criminal past, Ben decides to call it quits after a last job. But his best laid plans fail when the FBI discovers their plot.
What’s Good: The slick action; the racy first half; excellent characterisations; the tug-of-war between the bank robbers and the FBI officer, Jon Hamm, whose performance is noteworthy.
What’s Bad: The predictable story; the lack of drama; and although the film is based against the backdrop of the crime problem in Boston, the act of crime itself has been glorified.
Verdict: Ben Affleck’s The Town makes for an entertaining watch but underplays the drama to give the film a realistic feeling. Still, worth a watch.
Loo Break: Not really.
Jeremy Renner delivers a power-packed performance.
Actor and director Ben Affleck is back with a slick action drama, The Town, based on the backdrop of the numerous bank robberies that happen in Boston, US. The film begins with a group of four masked bank robbers looting a bank in the Charlestown neighbourhood of Boston. The heist is a success, but someone rings the police alarm and the robbers are forced to take as hostage the bank manager, Claire Keesey (Rebecca Hall). She is released soon after.
When they discover that Claire lives in Charlestown, one of the robbers, Jem (Jeremy Renner), gets nervous and wants to find out what she might have seen. Jem, who had spent nine years behind bars for a murder, is worried that Claire might help the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) officer Adam Frawley (Jon Hamm) in his investigation of the robbery. He gets his friend and partner in crime, Doug MacRay (Ben Affleck), to follow Claire and find out what she’s up to. Doug seeks out Claire, who has no idea of his real identity, and stumbles into a relationship with her. As Doug and Claire’s relationship deepens into a passionate romance, Doug wants out of this life and the town. But with the FBI closing in and Jem questioning his loyalty, Doug realises that getting out will not be easy and, worse, may put Claire in the line of fire. Does he betray his friends or lose the woman he loves? Finding his hand forced, Doug decides to do one last job, when all hell breaks loose as the FBI discovers what they are up to. Caught red-handed, the notorious robbers have to decide whether they should fight or flee.
The Town has an interesting story and premise – bank robberies, hard-nosed FBI officers and a surreptitious love affair – all make for good entertainment. The screenplay writers – Peter Craig, Ben Affleck and Aaron Stockard – have done a fair job of adapting Chuck Hogan’s novel, Prince Of Thieves. Though, by oversimplifying the going-ons in crime-ridden Charlestown, the screen writers have rendered the plot predictable. The characters are well-defined and interesting, especially Jem as the short-tempered Irish robber and the straight jacketed FBI officer, Adam Frawley. Frequent confrontations and mind games between them keep the audience on the edge. However, the love affair between Doug and Claire is clichéd. Moreover, the central protagonist, Doug’s conundrum – to be or not to be – has not been brought out impactfully in the screenplay. The fact that he is ashamed that his father was a career criminal and yet chooses to tread the same path is also unconvincing. Overall, the script works as a whole and provides ample scope for conflict, but it fails to rise upto one’s expectations.
Director Ben Affleck, who had previously charmed us with his crime thriller, Gone Baby Gone (1997), delivers a mish-mash of a thriller, a love story and a docu-drama that fails to stay completely true to any of the genres. The slick action sequences and the power play between the FBI and the robbers are the highlights of the film. The gang of robbers has been shown to be expert at doing its jobs but how it does them is never revealed. Nevertheless, the director has managed to extract good performances from his star cast.
Jeremy Renner, as Jem, and Jon Hamm, as Adam Frawley, deliver power-packed performances. Rebecca Hall portrays the fragile bank manager, Claire Keesey, with finesse. However, it seems that Ben Affleck was too caught up with his other responsibilities of being the co-screenwriter and director. His portrayal of the central character of Doug MacRay is just okay.
Caught red-handed, the notorious robbers have to decide whether they should fight or flee.
The music by David Buckley and Harry Gregson-Williams is good. Cinematography by Robert Elswit is excellent, especially in the car chase sequences. Editing by Dylan Tichenor is racy. The action is eye-catching, if not very grand.
All in all, The Town is entertaining fare but misses the opportunity to be a great film due to a half-baked script. Although acclaimed in the US, the film is expected to do average at the Indian box-office due to the scant publicity.