|The Town movie poster, property of Warner Bros.|
I have to admit that I wasn't dying to see this movie by any means. I'm not a huge Ben Affleck fan and the movie seemed to be just another heist flick. Luckily Brian chose to see it, because it was actually very good.
The movie opens with some quotes about Charlestown - known as "The Town" - being the city with the most bank robberies. Right off the bat we are privy to one of those robberies, and our bad guys (including a masked Ben Affleck and Jeremy Renner) obviously know what they are doing. They take the bank manager hostage (played by Rebecca Hall), just in case they get cornered by the police, but in the end they don't need her. So they leave her blindfolded on the beach and tell her to walk until her toes feel the water.
The story gets really interesting when the thieves discover that the bank manager, Claire, lives in their neighborhood. Renner's character James "Gem" Coughlin wants to get rid of her since her testimony could really hurt them, but Affleck's character Doug MacRay doesn't want to kill anyone. Sure he'll rob banks and rough people up when they need it, but killing is out of line. Eventually he begins to watch Claire to make sure she isn't helping the FBI, but winds up meeting her, falling in love with her, and having a relationship with her. She, of course, has no idea that he was one of her abductors.
Also thrown into the mix is the FBI Special Agent Adam Frawley (played by Jon Hamm) who is hell-bent on throwing the four of them in prison for the rest of their lives. Although he's fairly sure that they are the ones behind many of the recent robberies in Boston, he has no hard evidence against them.
The murky morality of this movie is what makes it most intriguing. Frawley is the supposed "good guy" on the side of the law, yet he'll use any means to get what he wants. Like lying about finding fingerprints or beating criminals mercilessly. Watching policemen shoot and kill someone who had stolen something caused me to ponder on the word "justice." Isn't it interesting in society that one bad deed deserves another? How it's okay for someone to be shot as long as that someone is "bad"?
Doug's persona is equally double-sided. We see him robbing banks, getting in fights, and having sex with drug addicts, yet when he's with Claire, we see his softer side. We begin to understand the trials in his life, and how he really feels "stuck" where he's at. It's hard to get out of a life of crime, yet he's determined to change his life around.
And while the heist scenes are thrilling, gritty, and intense, for me it was the terrific acting performances that really made this movie great. Affleck and Hamm were amazing in their roles of course, but Jeremy Renner was truly brilliant and I was even impressed with Blake Lively (who our two roommates hate with a passion) as the cracked out ex-girlfriend. All of the characters intertwined to weave a very intimate and real tapestry of life in the projects.
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