Wednesday, December 4, 2013
The Town (2010)(Minor Spoilers Review)
In Boston, four Charlestown natives work together as a notorious crew of robbers. Doug MacRay (Ben Affleck), James (or “Jem”) Coughlin (Jeremy Renner), Albert “Gloansy” Magloan (Slaine), and Desmond Elden (Owen Burke) run into some trouble after a routine robbery one morning. Jem takes Claire Keesey (Rebecca Hall), the bank’s assistant manager, as a hostage for some collateral, but the group releases Claire with no real harm.
As time passes, Jem is afraid of Claire’s potential testimony as the only witness, so Jem suggests killing Claire, but Doug decides to follow Claire for a personal evaluation instead. Unbeknownst to Claire, Doug is spying on her, and during his investigation, Doug develops feelings for Claire.
But Doug can’t bask in glory of his newfound happiness. As the mastermind and organizer behind each robbery, Fergie (Pete Postlethwaite) uses his flower shop as a front with protection from his trusted bodyguard, Rusty (Dennis McLaughlin), and he refuses to hire the entire crew without Doug’s participation. Doug is contemplating retirement, but Fergie refuses to accept his resignation, and Fegie promises retaliation with Claire’s death. On top of all that, Doug tries to distance himself from his ex-girlfriend and Jem’s sister, Kris (Blake Lively).
With a limited number of options in front of him, Doug reluctantly agrees to continue a life of crime, but things change after a botched robbery. The crew is pursued by a relentless FBI Special Agent named Adam Frawley (Jon Hamm). Frawley promises to cripple Doug and his crew with help from his right hand man, Dino Ciampa (Titus Welliver).
Doug tries to come up with a last minute exit strategy, but Fergie’s latest target complicates the situation. A haul worth millions of dollars is too tempting to pass up, so Fergie sends Doug and his crew on their most lucrative mission ever: Together, Doug and his crew will steal money from the cash room at Fenway Park.
Ben Affleck is a capable leading man, and he’s able to showcase some believable intensity every now and then (i.e. during his arguments with Jem). Jeremy Renner received a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination for his role as Jem here. Renner nails the “stubborn and hardened criminal, who won’t go down without fight” character, and he easily delivers one of the best performances in this film.
Rebecca Hall is convincing as Claire, and Hall did a good job of showing some real devastation, when Claire learns the truth about Doug’s second life. Blake Lively is spot on as this trashy druggie, who’s a complete train wreck in every way imaginable. And it’s not fair to judge Chris Cooper (he portrays Stephen MacRay, Doug’s father) here. Cooper’s screen time is limited to one appearance during a visit from Doug in jail, and that’s it.
Doug MacRay is an anti-hero, and John Hamm’s Frawley is the perfect foil for his character. Hamm is a sneering bully as Frawley, and Frawley has a snobbish superiority complex (i.e. mocking Doug with a Boston accent during the interrogation scene). Yeah, Doug MacRay is a criminal, but he’s also a hard working Average Joe, who makes a living by working construction. Frawley? He’s this pompous jerk, who enjoys taunting and tormenting Doug, and everyone close to him (including Claire). You’ll be rooting for Doug and his crew to escape in the end, because Hamm’s confident and unapologetic performance as Frawley is very convincing.
The Town is a sharp, tense, and efficient crime drama, featuring a formidable cast. The Town won’t change the landscape for crime dramas, but this one deserves credit for avoiding a finale that’s loaded with tragedy and sappy melodrama, because The Town allows a few rays of sunshine to break through the dark clouds. And it’s not his best film as a director (i.e. Gone Baby Gone and Argo), but Ben Affleck’s precise and smooth work behind the camera for The Town deserves praise and recognition.
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