The Town, written and directed by the great and powerful Ben Affleck, is a heist film set in modern day Boston. Doug MacRay (Ben Affleck) and his Charlestown crew are slick and professional robbers, who routinely conduct heists around the Boston municipal area. After a heist that almost went sour involving a female bank assistant manager (Rebecca Hall) that gets taken hostage, MacRay tries to balance his feelings for the bank manager and contemplates his future in crime. At the same time, a hell bent FBI agent (John Hamm) is looking to bring MacRay and his crew to justice.
My first interpretation of The Town was that it drew large similarities to The Departed. Both films were shot in Boston, invoke crime & drugs, and are centered on characters on opposite sides of the law either looking to make amends or bring the other to justice. Out of the two films, I definitely think that The Departed is superior in almost every measure but this Ben Affleck directed movie does have its merits.
For one, the plot is very non-convoluted and digestible. It has a conventional three act structure, with a different heist taking place in each act. The three heists take place in completely different settings and were generally well filmed. The evolving relationship between MacRay and bank manager Claire Keesey (Rebecca Hall) was another interesting aspect of this film because it tied so closely to all the heists and built tension in the right moments. Remember that Rebecca Hall’s character doesn’t know the identity of the robbers, so it was enthralling to see whether or not her relationship with MacRay would eventually be sabotaged. I also really liked the costumes worn by the robbers in the three heists; somewhat reminiscent to the President’s men in Point Break.
Some of the very creative masks used by the robbers
On the negative side, there were a few missteps in this film’s editing. For instance, I sometimes saw two characters chatting in one setting before immediately cutting to a completely different setting and continuing exactly where they left off. The heist scenes also had their issues. There was an abundance of shaky cam, quick cuts and lack of continuity that prevented them from delivering some gripping and realistic action. It was also very easy to predict who was going to die and who was going to live by the end of the film; there were no major attempts to subvert the expectations of the audience. Lastly, this film features the FBI, who made several critical errors, such as failing to install surveillance in the right areas or to wire tap certain characters’ phones so that they could be caught.
Overall, I did enjoy watching The Town. It is a perfectly adequate heist film that features a simple to follow plot, an interesting dynamic between two characters (Doug MacRay & Claire Keesey) and some generally well filmed heist sequences. My only major disappointment with this movie is that it failed to better itself in the editing stage, which would have improved continuity in certain scenes.