Wednesday, January 19, 2011

THE TOWN - Affleck's Seat-Gripper

THE TOWN (crime thriller/romance)
Cast: Ben Affleck, Jeremy Renner, Slaine, Owen Burke, Jon Hamm, Rebecca Hall, Blake Lively, Pete Postlethwaite and Chris Cooper
Director: Ben Affleck
Screenplay: Peter Craig and Ben Affleck & Aaron Stockard, based on the novel Prince of Thieves by Chuck Hogan
Time: 125 mins
Rating: * * * (out of 4)

Affleck and Renner in THE TOWN

PREAMBLE: The title refers to Charlestown near Boston, where bank robbery is passed from generation to generation like any trade, and Charlestown is home to more armoured car and bank robbers than anywhere else in America.

WHAT'S IT ABOUT: After mentioning this in the opening scene, we are shown a bank robbery in which Doug MacRay (Ben Affleck) and his masked gang brutally beat a man suspected of having set off the silent alarm and take the bank manager, Claire Keesey (Rebecca Hall), hostage. Claire is subsequently released but, when Doug tracks her down later to see if she has knowledge that could help the cops identify him, he finds himself attracted to her, much to the disapproval of his accomplice and best friend James Coughlin (Jeremy Renner of Hurt Locker).

Meanwhile, the FBI, led by Special Agent Adam Frawley (Jon Hamm) suspect Doug and his three gang members but don't have enough proof to make arrests, let alone get convictions. So Frawley must engage in some old-fashioned detective work and resort to a little bullying. And yes, he must stay a step ahead of Doug's gang and catch them in the act.

HITS & MISSES: Just like Affleck's Gone Baby Gone, this one immerses the viewers into the action and the wonderful romance between Doug and Claire. In the former, we learn about the friction among the gangsters, especially with the local 'boss' Fergie (Pete Postelthwaite), who relies on Doug to run his operations. We also get to meet Doug's dad (Chris Cooper) who is serving time in prison. The action recalls the taut and fast pace of The Italian Job, especially the nail-biting armoured car heist in the narrow streets. And under Affleck's direction, we get good character build-up anbd solid performances (especially from Renner and Hall).

The love story is just as palpable, especially when we see Doug forsaking his childhood love Krista (Blake Lively) for the alluring Claire. Rebecca Hall (left) is a winner in this department and will win many male hearts. This is Postlethwaite's last outing before succumbing to cancer recently.

THE LOWDOWN: A seat-gripper from start to end.


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