I have to admit that I usually don’t go for a cops and robbers type of flick. But I do make exceptions – Ransom, Inside Man, and Gone Baby Gone. Speaking of Ben Affleck, (like my segue?) The Town is his latest toss of the hat into the directing arena. He also co-writes the script and stars as the lead character Doug. He’s a multi-tasker. And he does it well. The movie has been compared to Scorsese’s The Departed (probably because the two movies both take place in Boston) and since the three people who read this blog (yes, that includes my mother) knows my position about Leonardo Dicaprio – then you can guess that I already like The Town much better.
Affleck brings together a great cast. There’s the stoic FBI agent Special Agent Adam Frawley (everyone’s favorite from Mad Men – Jon Hamm) and the quick to the draw best buddy to Doug Jem (Jeremy Renner. You remember him from The Hurt Locker). There’s the beautiful and gentle potential girlfriend Claire (Rebecca Hall from Woody Allen’s Vicki Christina Barcelona. Don’t blink or you might miss her in this movie). The real star is the incredibly underrated Chris Cooper (check him out in John Sayles’ Lone Star – perfection), playing the incarcerated father of Affleck. Amazing.
But there are exceptions to the great cast – okay I’ll just say it. Blake Lively. Ick. Playing the junky, drug-dealing ex-girlfriend Krista. Again. Ick. Her portrayal is cringe-worthy and unfortunately attempting a Boston accent and encircling her eyes with smeared black liner does not provide her with the added depth needed to make her mere seven minutes on screen tolerable. She is unable to portray lust, pain, or despair. She is too much of a girl in this part when it really requires a woman.
The story is basic. Good guys vs. bad guys – Hollywood loves a formula. The difference in The Town is how the city of Boston is another character in the movie. Affleck includes some establishing shots and the camera work actually bursts through some of the scenes. There is an amount of old-fashioned hoke in this film that’s absent from Gone Baby Gone, which is why for right now, I prefer Affleck’s first attempt as a filmmaker. But I’m excited to see what he does next.