Early Buzz: Ben Affleck’s The Town

Ben Affleck in The Town

The first reviews for The Town, the Ben Affleck-directed big screen adaptation of the Chuck Hogan novel The Prince of Thieves, have hit the internet. I, like many others, was extremely impressed by Affleck’s directorial debut Gone Baby Gone, and it looks like he may have stepped up his game with his The Town. So how is Affleck’s second feature? Find out what the first reviews are saying, after the jump.

I’ll be screening the film at the Toronto International Film Festival tomorrow and hope to have a review online by sometime in the afternoon. So please check back for my take.

Affleck stars as a career thief who falls in love with the manager of a bank he robbed. The film co-stars Jon Hamm, Jeremy Renner, Blake Lively, Pete Postlethwaite, and Chris Cooper. Affleck worked on the screenplay with Peter Craig and Chuck Hogan.

Variety: “The behind-the-camera talent Ben Affleck displayed so bracingly in Gone Baby Gone is confirmed, if not significantly advanced, in The Town. Again proving a fine director of actors (this time with himself in a starring role), Affleck delivers another potent, serious-minded slice of pulp set on Boston’s meanest streets” … “Pic has a real feel for the neighborhood and uses it inventively; a car chase at the midway point derives much of its impact from the claustrophobia of Charlestown’s narrow lanes and high walls. Local slang peppers the tangy script (credited to Affleck, his “Baby” co-scribe Aaron Stockard and Peter Craig), which revels in the sort of satisfying monologues and well-timed comebacks that tie it to an older, more classical storytelling tradition.” … “Blake Lively, almost unrecognizable here, has fierce, pained moments as the moll and single mother Doug has tossed aside.”

The Hollywood Reporter: “Steeped in an authentic sense of place, this crime drama is less convincing on the storytelling front.” … “a blue-collar authenticity invigorates The Town” … “Affleck gets the tribalism of Boston’s traditionally Irish-American enclaves; it’s a defining force in his characters’ lives. But for all their well-played grit, those characters resolutely remain types, and for all the well-choreographed action, the outcome doesn’t matter nearly as much as it should.” … “The script, credited to Peter Craig, Affleck and Aaron Stockard, taps into the right veins of provincialism and sarcasm but moves less surely between reckless action and intimate drama.” … “You feel the storytelling wheels turning, not the intended visceral punch.” … “Robert Elswit’s fluent widescreen camerawork and Dylan Tichenor’s editing are strong components, as are all the design contributions. The treacly score by Harry Gregson-Williams and David Buckley, on the other hand, tends to distract rather than enhance.” … Affleck excels at capturing the insularity of the locale. BlackBerries and OxyContin show up, but otherwise this might be the ’70s.”

Empire Magazine: “He really is two for two with the films he’s directed. I perhaps slightly prefer Gone Baby Gone, because it was less traditional, but The Town is a very assured and very powerful second feature all the same.” … “The Town is beautifully drawn; it has characters to care about and a situation that, though a little implausible, carries its own internal logic. And unlike that dream movie, there is real action here, with blazing guns, exhilarating car chases and violence with authentically fatal consequences.” … “Its staple one-last-job stuff, but Affleck handles it perfectly. The end is a little cleaner, and much more text-book Hollywood, than Gone Baby Gone” … “The supporting cast is excellent – notably Renner, Hall and especially Blake Lively”

Time Out London: “Brushing aside the light alt-indie trappings of his well liked directorial debut, ‘Gone Baby Gone’, this new soulful shoot-em-up, ‘The Town’, plays it straighter than a pool cue, offering the sort of solid, proficiently written cops ‘n’ robbers yarn that is the stuff of a thousand ‘Bluffer’s Guide to Moviemaking’ tomes.” … “The film follows the genre rule book line by line, detail by detail.” … “It’s hard to fault ‘The Town’ as a slice of robust craftmanship. But it’s a movie that has little to distinguish it from a very large collection of similar tales.”

The Evening Standard: “Affleck knows that a large chunk of romance leavens any tough thriller but also that the best thrillers have pace and a real sense of atmosphere. Charlestown certainly provides the latter.” … “The film, which allows its flawed hero an ending he perhaps doesn’t deserve, has a good mix of moments recalling a Bostonian version of The Wire and the car chases and gun fights of more orthodox thrillers. It should help Affleck on his way as an actor/director of some note.”

Hitfix: “Ben Affleck is, at heart, an extremely conventional storyteller.” … “largely successful, impressively acted, impeccably shot by Robert “There Will Be Blood” Elswit, and it tells its story with an impressive eye for what makes Boston special. I love filmmaking about a specific place, where your location is a character just like anyone onscreen, and Affleck’s Boston is impressively rendered as a real place. Jeremy Renner gives a superheated performance as the team’s loose cannon, and Jon Hamm’s unflappable special agent character gives him a few key moments to play and relish.” … “I think this is an old-fashioned good yarn, well told, a little more impressed with itself than it should be considering how simple the story is, but sure to satisfy adult audiences looking for something with some meat on the bones.” … “It’s a conventional crime drama done right, and a solid, if inconsequential, affirmation of the voice that Affleck is developing as a director.”

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