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The Town

The Town

What she said:

He

I have to be honest, I’ve only been to Boston once, and I really don’t know much about the city at all.  But apparently it’s a hotbed for deep seeded crime and is the criminal underbelly of the east coast.  At least according to the Ben Affleck directed film, The Town. 

The Town is a fairly gripping portrayal of criminal life in a particular neighborhood of Boston.  Affleck, and three others, including a childhood friend played by a scary Jeremy Renner, team up as a band of professional bank robbers.  They have successfully pulled off several heists and scored big money, but the FBI (led by Jon Hamm) is sniffing them out and is now hot on their trail.  Despite this fact, they continue to pursue jobs, and end up getting in plenty of gunfights and car chases.

There’s lots of violence, thrills, action, and some romance.  Affleck, unbelievably enough, falls for a woman that they take hostage during one of their capers.  He yearns to get out of the crime scene and move on with his life, but like so many from his neighborhood, he’s trapped in the family business.  One second he’s showing some compassion and we’re supposed to believe he’s a sensitive guy, and the next he’s spraying bullets through a crowd of innocents.  It’s very hard to get a read on the character.

It’s an interesting film, however unbelievable and contrived.  You have to turn a blind eye to several of the improbables of the storyline.  However, it’s not a bad film overall, and it certainly is a worthy merit for Affleck and Renner.  One minor complaint.  The characters are often hard to understand, with what seem to be exaggeratedly thick Boston accents.  We had to run the film back a couple times to try to understand what was being said.  It was a bit annoying, and I felt at times things were being overdone.  If you look past that, it’s still worth your while.

Diagnosis: Thumbs mostly up.

What he said:

He

Eh, I dunno. I was pretty torn on The Town.

I was interested in this movie from the get go. Firstly, I simply felt it looked like a decent movie based on the trailer. It also received some praise right off the bat and even drew some minor outrage (by some) when it wasn’t nominated for best picture. Plus, a good heist flick can be very entertaining. Heat and Point Break are two that immediately come to mind. Those are two very good movies imo.

But as the movie unfolded, I found myself a little bored. It felt rather dull in spots. And I’m not the kind of person who needs things blowing in my face all the time. I certainly encourage good storytelling.

I also felt like I did not know what was going on at times. But I think that was primarily due to the very thick accents. I rewound the movie several times and it actually got to be quite annoying.

At this point, the movie was reminding me a lot of The Hurt Locker (review here). It was gritty and well-acted, but I often found myself asking “What’s going on?”

The acting was good all-around. I can’t think of any one performance that stood out as being even remotely bad. I was even surprised by Blake Lively’s ability to play a Charlestown junkie. I didn’t think she had the acting chops to pull that off and I was impressed.

But the standout here was Jeremy Renner. He played James “Jem” Coughlin – best friend of the main character Doug McCray (Ben Affleck). Jem was born and raised into criminal activity. It was all he ever knew and he actually wears it like some kind of badge of honor. He is sort of psychotic and pretty much has no limits (unlike some of his friends).  Renner portrayed all of this with (what I think would be) great accuracy.

McCray is - without a doubt - a legitimate part of his crew. He’s the brains behind the operation and completely loyal to his friends. He would never judge or betray them; however he wants out this kind of lifestyle. He is done with it and this becomes all the more apparent when he falls for one of their hostages (played by Rebecca Hall). But this seems to be problematic as local crime boss “The Florist” refuses to let him go without doing one last job.

The Town is a very gritty, realistic and sometimes entertaining movie. I found its portrayal of this type of lifestyle to be very believable. But there were other times where it wasn’t particularly compelling or entertaining.

Rating: Thumbs half way up.

This review was written by “the He” from He said, She said on February 9, 2011.