The Town (9/10)
by Tony Medley
Run time 128 minutes
Not for children.
After some disappointing
outings as an actor, Ben Affleck took a turn at directing in 2007 with
Gone, Baby, Gone, and
produced what I thought was one of the best movies of the year. In this,
his second effort, he gets even better.
And it looks like this
director knows how to bring out the best in him as an actor, because he
gives an outstanding performance as a bank robber who falls in love and
wants to go right. He plays this off against his best friend, Jeremy
Renner, who is a volatile nut case, a cold-blooded killer.
Also giving an outstanding
performance is Rebecca Hall as the bank manager who becomes a witness
against the Affleck gang’s heist. In following up with her to see if she
posed a threat to them, Affleck falls in love, causing lots of problems
Combining with Renner, who
got an Oscar® nomination for The Hurt Locker (2009), and Affleck,
Hall’s performance is the glue that holds this movie together. While
Renner wants to whack her, Affleck wants to run away with her. This
isn’t Hall’s first outstanding outing. Although Penelope Cruz got an
Oscar® for her performance in
Vicki Cristina Barcelona,
it was Hall who put her mark on the movie.
That’s not to take anything
away from Renner. His performance as the unbalanced, unpredictable bank
robber is what creates the tension. What will this guy do next?
Affleck brings to this film
the same people who made Gone Baby Gone so good, including Harry
Gregson-Williams (with David Buckley) who wrote the original music, and
co-writer Aaron Stockard (with Peter Craig). As with Gone Baby Gone,
the music is essential to the story and the pace. This film is
tightly edited by Dylan Tichenor, which keeps the tension rising
Making this film even
better are the car chases. Car chases have become so widespread in
action movies that they are generally ridiculous and mundane. Not so
here. Affleck’s car chases achieve the high quality set by Bullitt
(1968) and The French Connection (1971), the two films
against which all subsequent car chases must be measured. Affleck’s are
realistic and don’t overdo the special effects to reach the absurd
results seen in most films.
Like many movies these
days, the location shots are as important as the actors. Although born
in Berkeley, California, Affleck grew up in the Boston area and his
location shots in and around Boston reflect his affection for the area
and evocatively capture its ambience, ending up at Fenway Park, the
iconic home of the Boston Red Sox since 1912.