*warning: Some minor spoilers in this review*
The Town isn’t like some of 2010’s earlier thrillers such as Inception or even Shutter Island. What I mean by this is that there’s nothing in this film that will make you think, “Wow, I’ve never seen something like that before”. The truth is that if you consider yourself a film buff or even if you’re just someone who has seen a few action/heist films, chances are you’ve seen scenes similar to the ones in The Town. This is a relatively straightforward and predictable film.
That’s where my “complaints” end for this movie.
The casting in The Town was near-flawless. I’ve never been much of a Ben Affleck fan, but he does a perfectly fine job in the lead role as Doug MacRay, the leader of a small group of bank robbers who is starting to have second thoughts. The reason he starts having second thoughts is because of Claire (a manager at a bank MacRay’s group robs) — she’s played by Rebecca Hall, who should probably get a Best Supporting Actress nomination (especially since that category is usually pretty weak).
Jeremy Renner plays Jem/James Coughlin, a longtime friend/associate of Doug MacRay’s. Renner’s probably best known for his starring role in The Hurt Locker, where he played a slightly crazy but ultimately respectable soldier. In The Town, Renner plays a total psychopath with just about no redeeming qualities. He gave the best performance in the film, and solidified his spot as my favorite actor today. The Best Supporting Actor Oscar the past 3 years has gone to psychopathic characters (Anton Chigurh in No Country for Old Men, The Joker in The Dark Knight, and Hans Landa in Inglourious Basterds)…I hope that trend continues, because Renner deserves that award for this performance.
Other supporting characters include Jon Hamm (Mad Men‘s Don Draper) playing the lead FBI investigator trying to catch MacRay’s group. Like just about everyone in this film, he does a very good job — Hamm brings some comic relief to the film while making sure he didn’t turn his character into a clown. Chris Cooper, Pete Postlethwaite, and Blake Lively have minor supporting roles and all do a solid job (even Lively, surprisingly).
I don’t want to call this a flat-out action film because it really isn’t; there are only a few action scenes in the whole movie. Still, these action scenes could put most action films to shame. I can’t stress this enough. Every time MacRay’s crew is about to rob somebody, you should expect an incredibly thrilling scene coming up. This is going to sound a tad hyperbolic, but a robbery & chase scene in the middle of the film when MacRay’s crew are all wearing nun masks is one of my favorite scenes from any movie. It really helps confirm just how psycho MacRay’s group is.
Even in the non-action scenes, Affleck is great at creating tension. There’s one scene where Doug and Claire are having lunch when Jem joins them. Because of some information that was revealed a few scenes earlier (and thanks to some camerawork that reminds you of that information), throughout the whole lunch scene I was thinking “Ohhh crap”. This is an intense film.
In addition to all that, the script in this film is very well-written. The dialogue is engaging and just about as entertaining as the action scenes are (especially when Jeremy Renner or Jon Hamm are on-screen). This helps keep the film very well-paced…if the dialogue wasn’t as entertaining as it is, the film would’ve felt like it dragged some in the middle. There was never a minute in The Town where I felt bored.
When you see my score for this film, keep in mind that I’ve rated 300+ movies and have only given 16 a 10. I’m not someone who gives out 10s to any movie I kinda like. That said, whenever this comes out on DVD and I want to watch a fun action or heist film…I have a feeling The Town will usually be my go-to movie. This is the best film Ben Affleck has ever been a part of, and I’m really looking forward to anything he directs in the future.
Does this deserve to be in the discussion of “best movies ever”? Probably not. Still, it is one of my favorite movies ever because of how ridiculously entertaining it is. 10/10