The Town

I will never let anybody speak badly of Ben Affleck to me again. The Town is one of the most entertaining films I’ve seen in years. It’s set in the Charlestown neighborhood of Boston, a place that I remember with some fondness. (My old friend, Tony V., has a supporting role.) The film is directed by Affleck and is based on Chuck Hogan’s novel, Prince of Thieves. It tells the story of a Charlestown criminal, Doug MacRay (Affleck). When MacRay and his friends rob a bank, they take a bank manager, Claire Keesey (Rebecca Hall), as a hostage, but they later release her. Later, Doug meets Claire in a laundromat. She is unaware that he was one of the robbers. The two strike up an affair. Doug’s hot-headed associate, Jem (Jeremy Renner), is displeased when he learns of the relationship. Doug and his criminal gang all grew up together, and their feelings of loyalty towards one another are strained when Doug decides he wants to go away with Claire and start his life over again. An FBI agent, Adam Frawley (Jon Hamm), also learns of the affair and tries to use it to trap MacRay.

The Town is basically a cops and robbers film that is very well done. The characters are believable; they remind me of people I met when I was living in Boston. (I also like that they made the FBI agent a dick.) The robbery scenes are slickly done, and the acting is very good. There is one thing that bothered me about the film, however. At the beginning, it is claimed that Charlestown produces more bank robbers than any place else in the world. I have since learned that this hasn’t really been true since the 1990’s. I can only suppose that the film makes this claim for dramatic effect, though this seems a bit a silly to me. I would have liked it if the film had spent more time exploring Boston’s criminal underworld, rather than making dubious claims. Still, I highly recommend this movie.

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