(Ben Affleck, 2010, USA)
After suffering from an acting career that grew from bad to worse, Ben Affleck went on to direct Gone Baby Gone back in 2007, a gritty thriller dealing with a shocking epidemic ripped straight from the headlines. The film was critically lauded and proved the naysayers wrong, demonstrating the prospect that this was an actor who had hidden talents on the other side of the camera. Affleck now continues this tense filmmaking style with his second directorial effort, a rough immortality tale set in Charlestown, Massachusetts, a city responsible for the highest number of bank robberies, we are told.
Affleck casts himself in the lead role of Doug MacRay, an Irish-American, blue collar bank robber alongside a team of violent cronies, including The Hurt Locker’s Jeremy Renner as his reckless accomplice. Doug struggles to evade the attentions of an FBI agent dedicated in bringing them down and also with his growing feelings for a bank manager who is connected to one of his previous heists, all the while looking for any means of escape.
Despite a few punchy, well directed sequences and a riveting twenty minute shoot-out at the films climax, The Town suffers from a half-hearted script, slim characterisation and an uninspired plot, which effectively boils down to a standard, clichéd narrative centred on one man’s pursuit of redemption. Bad guy meets girl, bad guy falls for girl, bad guy wants to flee his decayed life to start afresh but must do one more job to sever his illegitimate ties, etc etc.
The films strengths lie in its strong cast, with a confident performance from Mad Men’s John Hamm, an impressive turn from the talented Renner and able support provided by Pete Postlethwaite. However they’re somewhat let down by an overly glum Rebecca Hall who is too morose to be fully engaging and Affleck still isn’t the best actor around. While not a bad film; The Town’s enjoyably adult attitude and dark humour are bogged down by an overly generic formula.
Gone Baby Gone, 2007. [Film] Directed by Ben Affleck, USA: Miramax Films.
The Town, 2010. [Film] Directed by Ben Affleck. USA: Warner Bros. Pictures.