Review: ‘The Town’

Wednesday, September 15 by

The Town is filled with juicy actor soliloquies and detailed action sequences, but they are heinously pieced together in a by-the-numbers dramatic plot laden with one mushy romance.

From the action-packed prologue we think that we will be in for a ride through the criminal and FBI robbery division world of the Charlestown neighborhood of Boston, Massachusetts. Yet after the opener, the movie rolls downhill into a story about Charlestown townie bank robber Doug MacRay (Ben Affleck emoting with smirks, scowls, and sad watery eyes), who should really get the hell out of Boston before he ends up dead or in prison. MacRay shares this fate with his fellow bank robbing partner Jim Coughlin (Jeremy Renner in another intense performance) while finding love with a recent bank teller hostage Claire Keesey (Rebecca Hall) and being pursued by the frumpy FBI robbery agent Fawley (Jon Hamm showing that he is far more comfortable playing Don Draper than this sexless, boring-ass of a crusader here).

More after the jump…

The neighborhood of Charlestown like other current Boston-centric movies The Departed, The Boondock Saints and Mystic River are filled with your tough blue-collar characters. Here they only seem to be in passing. We do meet a wheezy old florist named Fergus ‘Fergie’ Colm (the legendary warbling English actor Peter Poslethwaite), who runs the Boston black market and a young barfly mom (Blake Lively), who will one day become the Amy Ryan character of Gone Baby Gone. They show up with brute words and moments, but only to push the story forward.

With Affleck serving as the director and co-writer, the same problems occur as with his last Boston project, Gone Baby Gone.  He seems very equipped to direct the action sequences with a very detail eye that infuses the story with energy while giving his fellow screen actors “great look at me” moments (the best being from Renner, Lively, Postlethwaite and Chris Cooper as his imprisoned father), but as a writer, he can’t construct a screenplay that can piece these exceptional moments together without gluing them with your typical crime drama plot. Affleck knows the words just not the music.

The movie keeps going with more shootouts and tying up loose ends that seem tact on only to give Affleck and Hall’s boring love story more screen time. The ending montage seems like an odd melodramatic piece from the Shawshank Redemption than from the rest of the movie’s hardboiled story.

The Town has some great stand-alone performances and moments to show off but they’re not given a solid cops and robbers movie to strap themselves into.

Grade: C-

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