Posted on 9/21/10 06:53 AM
Ben Affleck's sophomore directorial release is just about flawless. While it is not necessarily an original concept, it combines elements of The Departed and Heat in a taut manner while having fully-fleshed out characters that perfectly add to the tension within the story. Who would have thought that the Ben Affleck from Gigli would direct such a thoughtful piece of cinema?
The Town opens on a bank robbery in Boston, which appears to be conducted by Skeletor clones who are in fact Doug MacRay (Ben Affleck), his best friend Jimmy (Jeremy Renner) and the rest of their heist crew. Due to a minor setback Jimmy takes the bank manager, Claire (Rebecca Hall), hostage and after they are clear set her free. Claire is immediately questioned by FBI Agent Adam Frawley (Jon Hamm) and Doug follows her to make sure that she does not give anything significant away to the FBI. While he is following her he falls in love, threatening his own and his crew's safety. While he tries to salvage his love and get out of town he finds that the city has more of a grip on his life than he thought.
Affleck continues his directorial success after Gone Baby Gone and, in my opinion, improves on it. He not only tells a compelling story with complex characters like he did with Gone, but this time adds exciting action and bank heists, which he also helped script as well. He is able to build tension not only through shootouts and bank heists, but between the characters as well, fully fleshing out almost every key character introduced (minus Jon Hamm who looked uncomfortable in FBI attire). Jeremy Renner has another spectacular performance as the mentally unbalanced and hot-headed Jimmy and Affleck does a decent job in front of the camera as well.
While the action sequences weren't as intense as Heat they were still palpable and engaging. Especially the final shootout and a car chase scene that seemed dedicated to every soccer mom with road rage. The pacing was spot on, moving seamlessly in between drama fueled discussions, detailed planning, and then heist execution, which kept the audience engaged for the full two hours.
I look forward to more of Affleck's work as a director since I prefer him behind the camera than in front of it. He seems to have redefined himself successfully, managing to pull himself away from the tabloids and blockbuster films and create a more serious image that deserves recognition for his excellent work.