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THE TOWN

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Ben Affleck, Jeremy Renner, Rebecca Hall, Jon Hamm, Blake Lively, Pete Postlethwaite, Chris Cooper (Directed by Ben Affleck; Written by Ben Affleck, Peter Craig and Aaron Stockard; Warner Bros. Pictures) Now Playing

“First with his 2007 success with ‘Gone Baby Gone’  and now with ‘The Town,’  Affleck the director, it turns out, has a real feel for making movies about atmospheric grit and the collision of urban law, order, and disorder. If the films are set in his childhood hometown, so much the better, because the homeboy does love paying visual attention to the city's tough, thin-lipped Irish faces. Affleck the actor, meanwhile, does his best work playing flawed characters, surrounded by strong colleagues...’The Town’ is a rich, dark, pulpy mess of entanglements that fulfills all the requirements of the genre, and is told with an ease and gusto that make the pulp tasty...Affleck nails the rhythms of coexistence between neighborhood crooks and regular joes. His instincts are also right in casting Renner in the role of Jem, the local baddie with a short fuse, and letting the effortlessly magnetic actor steer the pace of the action, hinting at danger even when Jem's just nursing a brew. With the thrum of unromanticized eff-'em he brings to the part, Renner supplies the jolt that keeps Affleck on his toes, both as an actor and as a director.”  --LISA SCHWARZBAUM, Entertainment Weekly

“...a solid, minor entry in the annals of Boston crime drama. Not as florid as ‘The Departed’ or as sadly soulful as ‘The Friends of Eddie Coyle’ — or even as sticky and gamy as ‘Gone Baby Gone,’ Mr. Affleck’s previous film — it is essential viewing for connoisseurs of dropped r’s, close-cropped hair and aerial views of the city that used to call itself the hub of the universe...Ms. Hall, a subtle actress with an intriguing face, has very little to do, and her character is three different kinds of cipher, lacking sufficient individuality to galvanize the audience’s interest...the film is too cool and procedural to give their relationship any depth of feeling...the performances in ‘The Town’ are strong enough to make it watchable, and the sense of place — of topography and architecture, if not of actual social life — is vivid and enjoyable. A climactic caper at Fenway Park blows holes in the film’s narrative and emotional credibility, but it is fast and exciting all the same.” –A.O. SCOTT, The New York Times

“...a gripping human drama disguised as a blazing heist film that comes on like gangbusters...Ben [Affleck] takes the star spot in ‘The Town’  as Doug MacRay, a Boston bank robber whose daddy (Chris Cooper, stingingly good in just one scene) is now in prison for doing the same thing...The Massachusetts-bred Affleck shoots on location and gives the movie a lived-in feel...But atmosphere alone wouldn't cut it if the deft screenplay Affleck wrote with Peter Craig and Aaron Stockard didn't dig past cliché to touch a raw nerve. The emotional heat hits sizzle when Doug falls for Claire (Rebecca Hall), a bank manager his crew took hostage and then released... Affleck and Hall make this unlikely love story palpably moving. And Renner (‘The Hurt Locker’) is dynamite—he radiates ferocity and feeling. Affleck excels with actors, from a very un-‘Gossip Girl’ Blake Lively as the trashy townie to ‘Mad Men’s Jon Hamm, who totally aces it as Frawley, an FBI agent with as many kinks as the perps he chases. For visceral impact, Affleck really steps up to the plate with the climax—a sensational heist at Fenway, Boston's baseball mecca. It's fair to say that Affleck knocks it out of the park.” –PETER TRAVERS, Rolling Stone

“The dark 2007 crime thriller ‘Gone Baby Gone’  was imperfect but admirably intense, and captured the clannish, claustrophobic atmosphere of author Dennis Lehane's Irish-American Boston neighborhoods convincingly. But I detect troubling signs of celebrity malaise in Affleck's new film, ‘The Town,’ which you can't even describe as more of the same. It's less of the same... the material here--a screenplay written by Affleck, Peter Craig and Aaron Stockard, based on Chuck Hogan's novel--is closer to a mediocre, generic imitation of Lehane than to the real thing... Affleck stages reasonably competent heist scenes, along with a memorably awesome getaway chase in the cramped streets of Boston's scenic North End. These get bigger and sillier as they go along, until we wind up witnessing a Fenway Park robbery attempt that rivals the Normandy invasion in scale. But given the debased standards of action cinema these days this might be enough to make "The Town" a hit. But almost everything else about the movie is badly off balance, starting with Affleck's decision to cast himself as the implacably sexy and good-hearted Doug... Possibly because there's no director telling Affleck what to do, Doug comes off as a bland, blank character, more a collection of honorable attributes and iron-toned muscles than a human being... Casting yourself as the tuff-tawkin', crook-wit'-a-hahta-gold hero of a movie you co-wrote and directed doesn't quite seem like something Ben Affleck would do. That sounds more like the behavior of some massively vain celebrity who's totally convinced himself of his own authenticity, good intentions and all-around coolness... So, Ben: I love you, but your movie's kinda stupid. Go make a better one. You'll thank me for this one day.” –ANDREW O’HEHIR, Salon.com

“Ben Affleck does double duty on this engrossing romantic thriller, both directing and assuming the lead role. As a career criminal in Boston, he falls in love with the bank manager (Rebecca Hall) abducted by his crew during a heist—a scenario that’s further complicated by his short-fused accomplice (Jeremy Renner). TV’s Jon Hamm and Blake Lively make a leap to the big screen as a fed and a druggie mom, respectively. But it’s Affleck the filmmaker who really scores: His strong storytelling sense makes this Town worth the visit.” –THELMA ADAMS, Us Magazine, thelmadams.com

“Ben Affleck made a quietly astonishing directorial debut a few years ago with the taut, atmospheric mystery ‘Gone Baby Gone.’ With ‘The Town,’ he proves he's no one-hit wonder. A big, ambitious action crime thriller, ‘The Town’ trades the earlier film's contemplative, mournful mood for a faster pace and smashing set pieces. It's a smart, bold genre exercise that's enormous fun to watch, harking back to gritty urban thrillers of the 1970s with an assured sense of tone and style...if Affleck is all too willing to make his character a too-good-to-be-true paragon of moral ambivalence, he still manages to infuse Doug's struggle with touches of recognizable realism, especially by way of the characters he surrounds himself with. [Jeremy] Renner, whose breakout performance in ‘The Hurt Locker’ last year earned him a deserved Oscar nod, brings a similar brand of volatile energy to the borderline psychotic Jem...As in his earlier film, Affleck evinces a keen eye and ear for the Boston neighborhoods near where he grew up in nearby Cambridge; his command of the area's vernacular and milieu allow ‘The Town’ to take its rightful place next to ‘Mystic River’ and ‘The Departed’ as a muscular and authentic Beantown flick...With its heists, fights, car chases and kick-in-the-pants climax set at Fenway Park, ‘The Town’ lets action, staging and canny editing tell the story. ‘The Town’ has a lot going for it: terrific cast, good writing, some nifty psychological reversals. But the best news is that Affleck makes it all move.” –ANN HORNADAY, The Washington Post

“Affleck’s heist movie ‘The Town’ is part of a career turnaround so amazing that he looks like the new Clint Eastwood. Seriously. Affleck directed, stars in, and co-wrote ‘The Town,’  a suspenseful, fiercely paced movie about bank robbers that is also about love, brotherhood, and the desperate need to escape a crooked life. It proves that ‘Gone Baby Gone,’ his accomplished directing debut, was no fluke...‘The Town’ may feel breezy and escapist, but it displays Affleck’s signature style: deep, unobtrusive realism. Like ‘Gone Baby Gone,’ it is set in a working-class neighborhood near Boston, where robbing banks runs in families. Affleck grew up in affluent Cambridge, but he has a feel for these cramped lives and is thoroughly convincing as Doug MacRay, the conflicted mastermind of a gang that includes his close-as-a-brother pal Jem (Jeremy Renner)...Whatever caused Affleck’s turnabout—sobriety, marriage, fatherhood—it’s working.”  --CARYN JAMES, Newsweek

“...a solid crime thriller from Beantown’s Ben Affleck, who showed he could write in ‘Good Will Hunting,’ and that he could direct in ‘Gone Baby Gone’... it has a couple of great performances. One of them is by Jeremy Renner, the mad bomb defuser of ‘The Hurt Locker,’ now back as Jem, an equally fierce risk addict. Another is—maybe you should sit down first—Blake Lively, who leaves the ‘Gossip Girl’ world behind to play a sluttish junkie who’s still waiting on a bar stool for Dougie to drop by. That’s Affleck’s part, and it’s a quiet one by design—Doug’s supposed to be the cool one here. But Affleck pulls it off nicely. And he’s smart enough to surround himself with good actors and then to let them work—like Rebecca Hall, who is superb as a terrorized bank employee...as a straightforward cops-and-robbers picture, “The Town” delivers. The local color is astute. The pacing is fine and the characters well-drawn. And although it gets a bit too Hollywood in its final scenes, the gang’s climactic heist gets points just for sheer nerve. But then Affleck— reinventing himself, yet again—knows something about audacity.” –STEPHEN WHITTY, The Star Ledger

“Ben Affleck can look slack-faced and vague, like a moose in the klieg lights, but he’s remarkably present (for him) in the socko crime thriller ‘The Town.’ He’s the director as well as the star, and his watchful intelligence comes through—that and his tenderness toward the actors in his care...Everyone in ‘The Town’ shines, even Blake Lively, but it’s Chris Cooper as MacRay’s imprisoned dad who astounds. The performance is hard, almost completely internal, with the barest hint of disgust at his son’s credulity...‘The Town’ has its ding-a-ling touches, like Claire volunteering in a rec center for poor kids (how sweet), and a buried secret involving MacRay’s absent mom, and a final battle so overscaled it’s like ‘War of the Worlds’  in Fenway Park. The denouement is a mistake. But it’s great to see actors go to (the) town.”  --DAVID EDELSTEIN,  New York Magazine

“Ben Affleck delivers the goods as an actor and director in ‘The Town,’ a blistering bank-robbery drama with a romantic twist, set in his real-life hometown of Boston...with his gritty, layered performance, he finally erases all memory of the smirking actor who used to coast through so many movies... ‘The Town’ is an exciting and extremely well acted film...The standout is the tightly coiled Renner, whose James Cagney-like temper shows that his performance as a bomb-disposal expert in ‘The Hurt Locker" was not a one-hit wonder...One flaw: The script, which Affleck co-adapted from Chuck Hogan's best seller ‘Prince of Thieves,’ wavers on exactly how sympathetically it wants to portray Doug. That's a relatively small complaint about a film as exciting and well-crafted as ‘The Town.’”  --LOU LUMENICK, New York Post

“‘The Town’ is often fine around the edges but mushy at its core. The script by Affleck, Peter Craig, and Aaron Stockard, based on the novel ‘Prince of Thieves’ by Chuck Hogan, draws less on life than on other, similarly themed movies, especially ‘The Departed.’ It draws even more on TV cop shows... As a director, Affleck doesn't overdo the Irishness of the Irish Catholic community of Charlestown, and the actors don't overdo their accents. There are some marvelous cameo performances by Chris Cooper as Doug's convict father, and Pete Postlethwaite as the scurviest florist-shop owner you will ever encounter. Affleck, often underrated as an actor, fits effortlessly into this milieu. With a less cliché-ridden script, and fewer shootouts and chase scenes to pump up the temperature, ‘The Town’ might have amounted to something more than an occasionally good movie about crooks in trouble. There's a knife-edge here, but it's been blunted. –PETER RAINER, The Christian Science Monitor

“There's a decent movie in ‘The Town,’ though this adaptation of the Chuck Hogan novel ‘Prince of Thieves’ stretches out to a misjudged 130 minutes...just when the screws should tighten, we get another leisurely dialogue scene, and hammy inevitables such as the protagonist, played by Affleck, telling his less stable partner in crime, played by Jeremy Renner of ‘The Hurt Locker’: ‘Ya been like a brutha to me.’...Blake Lively is exceptional in the role of a drug-addled single mother who represents the life Doug's trying to ditch. Everyone's effective, even when hamstrung by cliches. Well, almost everyone: I love Pete Postlethwaite as a rule, but here—as a murderous florist who pulls all the strings—he overacts his key scene so badly it's as if he did it on a dare. Also, Jon Hamm may rule on ‘Mad Men,’ but here he's stuck as a rather dimwitted FBI agent who's two beats behind the action, always.”  --MICHAEL PHILLIPS, Chicago Tribune

“Ben Affleck and Rebecca Hall combine forces to excellent effect in ‘The Town, a fast-paced, character-driven heist movie that combines robberies with romance and solidifies Affleck's reputation as an actor with a genuine gift for directing...Affleck also seems more confident and at ease in the director's chair this time around and less like the actor with something to prove. The film's palpable authenticity is less self-conscious than it was in ‘Gone Baby Gone’ and Affleck is able to create a strong enough sense of verisimilitude to allow us to buy into the film's unlikely premise...The actor, looking tattooed and haggard but extremely buff, makes MacRay convincingly blue collar but also someone who could be reflective around the edges if the situation demanded it. Which it soon does...since traditional crime dramas are only as strong as the strength of the lawmen pursuing the evildoers, Hamm is ideally cast as implacable FBI Special Agent Adam Frawley, relentless in his pursuit of MacRay and his team...As for Affleck, the decision he made to star in and direct ‘The Town’ was one of the best he's made in a while.” –KENNETH TURAN, The Los Angeles Times

"’The Town’ shows, as his first film ‘Gone Baby Gone’ (2007) did, that Affleck has the stuff of a real director. Everything is here. It's an effective thriller, he works closely with actors, he has a feel for pacing. Yet I persist in finding chases and gun battles curiously boring. I realize the characters have stopped making the decisions, and the stunt and effects artists have taken over.” –ROGER EBERT, Chicago Sun-Times

“Affleck mixes city savvy with a thuggish energy most thrillers lack...A mid-film car chase through Charlestown's narrow streets is edited for maximum jolt, while the heists are shot with a ‘70s-style eye for detail. That style is echoed in Affleck and Hall's low-key performances, which help to make their contrived meet-cute scene less jarring. Affleck keeps the film as fluid as the Mystic River, and never forgets that [Jeremy] Renner is his ace in the hole. The ‘Hurt Locker’ star charges up every scene he's in with feral power, and is rewarded with one of the most exciting sequences seen in any action movie this decade.” –JOE NEUMAIER, New York Daily News

“It is an exceedingly well-assembled genre picture, a spell-binding, edge-of-your-seat thriller...Cashing in on some of the political capital he [Ben Affleck] earned with ‘Gone Baby Gone,’ he stars this time in addition to directing. And like the rest of his fantastic cast--a group so top-to-bottom rock solid that actors the caliber of Pete Postlethwaite and Chris Cooper are relegated to bit parts--he scores...Affleck knows how to keep things moving along briskly. He does the big things right, such as the blazing gunfights and the breathless car chases through Boston's claustrophobic streets...he does the little things right, too, exemplified in a gem of a scene--built on a Hitchcockian blend of playfulness and intensity--in which Hall's character, unaware that Doug and Jim are the men who robbed her, repeatedly comes within inches of discovering their real identity.” –MIKE SCOTT, New Orleans Times-Picayune

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