Directed by Ben Affleck’s
Ben Affleck’s first film, “Gone Baby Gone,” was a brilliant translation of the Dennis Lehane novel about the disappearance of a child, with a stunning performance from Amy Ryan (Oscar nomination) and a very tight directorial control that let us see only what Affleck wanted us to see, when he wanted us to see it.
His second film, “The Town,” is what I think of as the reverse of the first. Instead of being about solving an apparent crime, we are asked to follow a group of four bank robbers (including Affleck and Jeremy Renner (who gave that amazing performance in “The Hurt Locker”) as they try bigger and bigger heists. Now the question is who if anyone will get away with the loot, as they try to outwit Jon Hamm of the FBI, who pursues the group. As he and the cops get closer and closer my wife turned to me and said, “Is Ben Affleck actually going to let himself be killed in this movie?”
Well, I’m not going to reveal what happens, but without question “The Town” has some marvelous moments of suspense for us. In the first heist, the group, all masked, takes a hostage (Rebecca Hall), the manager of the bank branch. She’s blindfolded, but sees a tattoo on the neck of Renner. Later in the film, as she and Affleck are now lovers, probably the most contrived moment in the film, she will have an opportunity to see it again. Director Affleck handles the moment with exquisite care (you can read how he did it in the New York Times Online).
The group of robbers is under the direction of, of all things, a local florist (Pete Postlethwaite), who also runs dope and has connections to whomever he needs to set up the robberies; and as “The Town” moves along toward its conclusion and the wheels start coming off the tight group of robbers, the film loses its momentum and devolves into standard car chases, as the only question remaining is whether or not Affleck will survive. Considering how dreadful the films this summer have been, with only the brilliant “Winter’s Bone” to remember it by, “The Town” is altogether a very good entertainment.