A more than proud New York Yankee fan myself, I am supposed to be geared to hate everything Boston. From their sports teams down to their way of life. But I can’t, I must give credit where it is due, even if it is owed to a city who houses the despised Red Sox (who missed the playoffs this year might I add). They are a loyal bunch, they stand by their teams and stick with their own no matter what happens. I happen to occasionally root for the Boston Celtics, only because I like Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo and yes, although slightly on the older side, they are a very good team and will hopefully do well this upcoming season. I must also give credit to their films.
Some of the best movies ever placed on a big screen have taken place in, around, or near this city. Many of the individuals who are linked to these films are from the Boston area and have done well to entertain us. Mystic River, Gone Baby Gone, and one of my ultimate all-time favorites The Departed have come out of Beantown. The latest and perhaps one of the greatest, The Town, directed by Ben Affleck a Cambridge, Massachusetts native, carries on that legacy. But yes, I still retain my loathing for the Red Sox. I have to, as a New Yorker; it’s just the right thing to do.
Doug McCray (Ben Affleck) and his long-time friend James “Jem” Coughlin (Jeremy Renner) lead a team of bank robbers. Along with two other friends, “Gloansy” Magloan (rapper Slaine) and Desmond Elden (Owen Burke) they pull off well planned, quick, and very rewarding robberies. The blueprints of these heists are put together by McCray who is obviously the “brains” of the operation. Hoping to gather up enough loot from a last couple of jobs, his plans are to be able to finally leave the Charlestown area of Massachusetts once and for all.
During one of these robbery attempts, the team comes across a female bank manager named Claire Keesey (Rebecca Hall). She happens to get a look at a “describing feature” (tattoo) on one of the robbers before she is momentarily taken hostage by them. To make sure she doesn’t become a threat, McCray tails her and the two meet and develop a romance. Obviously this doesn’t sit well with his team as they plan future robberies and try to stay one step ahead of the Boston Police Department and the FBI. Tempers flare and friendships as well as the privilege of staying out of prison are compromised and questioned as McCray struggles to choose where his loyalty should lie.
I was thoroughly impressed by this film; from beginning to end there was something to keep everyone intrigued. The execution of the bank robberies weren’t the only thing that stood out in this story. Sub-plots played into the climax just as much as the heavy artillery and masked disguises. Written by Affleck along with Peter Craig, the screenplay progresses steadily and smoothly. Easy to follow and to keep up with the little here and there jokes, the film is very realistic in nature. Apparently in Charlestown, Massachusetts, robbing banks is somewhat of a profession. There were 23 reported bank robberies in the entire state of Massachusetts in the first quarter of 2010 alone.
Affleck’s character as the sensible, somewhat responsible team leader fits his acting style quite well. Renner’s character, as with many of his roles, is the out of control, unstable friend who always goes that unnecessary extra mile to potentially put all of them in danger. Right off the bat, it’s easy to see that their personalities are going to clash hard and often despite their close friendship. Of course everyone’s Boston accent is on full display and actually quite nice to hear with hints of authenticity behind them. Rebecca Hall brings a good aura of the not-so-distressed damsel but you can tell she is shaken up by her run in with a group of masked bank robbers. The FBI agent assigned to head their investigation, Special Agent Adam Frawley (Jon Hamm), puts his full effort forward into trying to catch these guys stopping at nothing to get the job done.
Ben Affleck once again does not disappoint in a directorial role. Even with pulling double duty starring as the films main character, he does a great job. Incorporating the feel and environment of Charlestown provides a large part of the realness of the film I spoke of earlier. Based on a novel titled Prince of Thieves written by Chuck Hogan, also a native Bostonian, this film is well enough done to see more than once. You might even pick out little tidbits that you did not really catch the first time around. Despite it being about the excess bank robberies that take place there, the citizens of Charlestown, also known as “townies”, should be proud of this movie. Many of them although realizing that the robberies are not exactly a positive thing, are still pleased to be associated with their hometown. I give The Town “4.5 bank robbers dressed in nun disguises out of 5”.
-“I need your help. I can’t tell you what it is, you can never ask me about it later, and we’re gonna hurt some people.”
– “…Whose car we takin’?”