Doug MacRay is an unrepentant criminal, the de facto leader of a group of ruthless bank robbers who pride themselves in stealing what they want and getting out clean. With no real attachments, Doug never has to fear losing anyone close to him. But that all changed on the gang’s latest job, when they briefly took a hostage, bank manager. Though they let her go unharmed, she is nervously aware that the robbers know her name…and where she lives. But she lets her guard down when she meets an unassuming and charming man called Doug … not realising that he is the same man who only days earlier had terrorised her. The instant attraction between them gradually turns into a passionate romance that threatens to take them both down a dangerous path.
‘The Town’ is Ben Affleck’s feature film follow up to 2007’s ‘Gone Baby Gone’. Set in Boston, the film explores the cultural and socioeconomic background of the Charlestown area, and the story of a group of young men involved in a series of bank and armoured car robberies.
There is a gritty sense of realism to the film as the locations where the events unfold have a tangible quality to them. The location shooting, the sets, the costumes for the actors all mesh consistently throughout portraying what would be a difficult and rough area to grow up in. There is a real sense of intergenerational behaviours formed as some of the driving forces behind the actions of the characters are revealed. Whether this portrayal is accurate to Charlestown in reality I can’t really say, however the depiction in the film is effectively done.
The heart of the story revolves around Ben Affleck’s character ‘Doug MacRay’, his desire to change his life and his romantic involvement with the character portrayed by Rebecca Hall. Both Affleck and Hall give a solid performance and a sound chemistry which serves as a foundation for the film. Other performances from the cast are strong, especially Jeremy Renner who once again delivers a strong performance as he portrays a character that lives and breathes the neighbourhood he grew up in.
Another area the film excels in is the action sequences, which are timed well throughout the film giving a consistent sense of pacing throughout. Set in the streets of Boston the action is another example where the film really settles into its location. The impressive practical effects and attention to background detail makes it feel as if they filmed in front of any regular day on the street, I don’t believe I’ve seen such gritty, realistic and intense street combat sequences scenes since 1995’s ‘Heat’, which is a real credit to this film.
The intensity is maintained over a long period of time, especially as things gather momentum throughout the third act. Some aspects of the story felt quite predictable as things close in on the final credits however there is enough in the way of unknown outcomes that will keep you heavily invested in the ending.
The original music for the film by David Buckley and Harry Gregson-Williams was another stand out aspect, it provided an additional sense of immersion and was effective in encouraging an emotional connection to the characters and the city itself.
‘The Town’ is another strong film from Ben Affleck, his work in film has come a long way from his earlier involvement with projects like ‘Paycheck’ and ‘Pearl Harbour’. I think the talent has always been there if you look at things like ‘Good Will Hunting’ and ‘Chasing Amy’, I think the talent was just a little distracted for a while there, and I’m looking forward to seeing what he does next. If you haven’t seen his previous directorial project ‘Gone Baby Gone’, I highly recommend it.
I’m giving ‘The Town’ 4 out of 5 stars, it’s released in cinemas Australia wide on Thursday 14th October.