Ben Affleck’s The Town opens today and brings with it some high expectations. Affleck’s first film, Gone Baby Gone, was widely regarded as an exceptionally strong directorial debut. For his sophomore effort, he returns to Boston with a bigger budget and an even more impressive roster of stars (not to mention a great trailer). Does The Town live up to its promise? Hit the jump for some of my impressions, and as always, feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments. Spoilers are allowed.
The Town is a highly enjoyable heist drama in the vein of cat-and-mouse films such as Michael Mann’s Heat. Shot on location in Boston under the auspices of cinematographer Robert Elswit, the film looks spectacular and evokes an excellent sense of location, from the gritty streets of Charlestown to the classy restaurants of Harvard Square. The heist/action scenes are really well done and features at least one memorable car chase sequence, proving once and for all that Affleck’s time on the set of Reindeer Games with car chase extraordinaire John Frankenheimer was well worth it (I kid because I love. The chase scenes in The Town are genuinely excellent).
Where the film loses me is in the supposed character arc of our protagonist, Doug MacRay (played by Affleck himself). It feels as though Affleck desperately wants the film to be more than just an above-average action romp. He wants The Town to be an epic story about redemption and moving beyond one’s past, to evoke the transformative power of films like The Shawshank Redemption. But there’s just not enough in the script to make the character and his supposed transformation into something satisfying.
Still, what’s there is excellent, and there are plenty of visual flourishes, set pieces, and intense moments to make this a solid genre piece. I liked the movie and might even catch it again before it leaves theaters. What about you guys?