I love it when a film manages to glorify bad guys to the point of generating applause. That's exactly what Ben Affleck's explosive new film, "The Town," accomplishes. Affleck positions himself in front of as well as behind the camera and elevates himself to true auteur status.
In this slick action-packed crime thriller, Affleck plays Doug MacRay, one-time, pro-hockey hopeful turned prolific bank robber. His partner, Jem (the ever evolving Jeremy Renner), breaks the rules by taking a hostage, Claire (Rebecca Hall), during a heist. Long story short, Doug falls for Claire and wants a shot at the straight life, a move akin to quitting the Mafia. It's not going to happen.
Within the first five minutes of "The Town," the audience is given an intense shot of adrenaline and it doesn't wear off until the closing credits. I'm not quite sure if Affleck is ripping off or paying his respects to Michael Mann's "Heat," but the bank jobs have that similar heart-pounding choreography and scoring. A chase scene through the cramped streets of Boston's Charlestown is the best since "Bullitt."
The action is the juice, the story is the glue and the acting is the power, which propels this film to the best movie I've seen this year. Veteran actor Pete Postlethwaite is severely sinister as a mob kingpin/florist. Chris Cooper's cameo as Doug's incarcerated father is one of those small haunting performances that registers big time. Even John Hamm (TV's "Mad Men") as a FBI special agent bent on bringing down Doug's crew, holds his own among this gifted cast.
Honestly, I've never cared much for Ben Affleck's acting. My respect for him as a director ("Gone Baby Gone") was far superior. But he makes all the right moves in "The Town." It's been a long time since I've heard cheering and clapping during the screening of a film. And it sounded right.
— Pam Nadon