Boston’s Best

Boston’s Best

I just don’t know what to say about Ben Affleck’s new film The Town; it was just so exponentially awesome that there are no words to describe it.

Truthfully, going into the movie I wasn’t exactly expecting much. Affleck’s range of movies is a rollercoaster of greats, like Good Will Hunting, not so greats, like Pearl Harbor, and even worse like Gigli. But I have to say he really did something right this time.

The film focuses around a small group of friends who were born and bred in Charleston, a Boston neighborhood that just so happens to produce the most bank robbers in the U.S. And that is just what these guys do– rob banks.  Overlooking the fact that these guys rob banks, they are actually pretty nice guys…well three out of four are.

Affleck plays the group’s de facto leader, Doug, who is following in his father’s (featured in an excellent 15 minute slice of Chris Cooper) criminal footsteps. He isn’t really like the rest of the group. He is kind and doesn’t really want anyone to get hurt. At first I thought he was a little too wimpy to be a bank robber but that is the core of his character’s charm.

Jeremy Renner (The Hurt Locker) is the hotheaded Jem, who barely keeps himself from killing everyone he talks to. I like that his character is so different from the Army bomb squad member in The Hurt Locker. Along with Gloansy (Irish-American hip-hopper MC Slaine) who made me burst into laughter when he was “just trying to be authenticious” and Desmond (Owen Burke) who didn’t really talk but nobly sacrifices himself at every opportunity, the quartet makes what may be one the most messed up group of bank robbers.

The movie starts off with the robbing of a bank (in skeleton masks) and hostage of a young bank manager, Claire (Rebecca Hall), who is subsequently released. But Doug takes a special interest in her and they quickly become involved. All the while Claire is working with F.B.I. Special Agent Frawley (the superb Jon Hamm, Mad Men) who is just as screwed up as the guys he is trying to nab. As the plot of dark human drama unravels, your nerves over Claire finding out who Doug really is, mounts.

It was refreshing to see Hamm in something other than Mad Men because when you find an actor you like you want to see them in roles different from what you are used to. Hall (The Prestige) played the same role as usual– nice, some hidden darkness, being lied to by the man she thought she loved– it wasn’t a groundbreaking performance on her part but it was well acted and fit the bill wonderfully.

That fact that it was shot in Affleck’s native Boston was great; I am a sucker for on location filming. Ending with an awesome heist at Fenway Park just sent my approval rating through the roof. If it weren’t scattered with skin crawling scenes featuring an annoyingly naïve prostitute (Gossip Girl’s Blake Lively), The Town would be a no-brainer for anyone. Luckily an intense chase scene involving freaky nun masks made up for Lively’s mediocre performance. But alas, it wins my highest praises (and the Boston Halloween costume store’s for all the masks that were used.)

FOUR AND A HALF out of FIVE stars