Directed by: Ben Affleck
Cast: Ben Affleck, Jeremy Renner, Rebecca Hall, Jon Hamm
Running Time: 2 hrs 5 mins
Release Date: September 17, 2010
PLOT: A long-time bank robber (Affleck) falls for a hostage. Now he must balance those feelings with protecting his crew from the FBI, who are hot on their trail.
WHO’S IT FOR? Feels like a good, old-fashioned classic drama thriller. If you like to root for the bad guy, even though you shouldn’t then you’ll enjoy. Plus, some of you are still Ben Affleck fans, GET IN LINE for this one.
EXPECTATIONS: It’s a really good cast with Hamm and Renner being two that I want to see much more of on the big screen. Also, even though it was only one film, Gone Baby Gone shows that Affleck knows what he’s doing when he’s directing.
Ben Affleck as Doug MacRay: Ben knows Ben. Ben knows Boston. Here he plays Doug who isn’t the tough guy in the group, but he’s the leader. He gets things done and has a patience and intelligence the others in his crew lack. Yes, it’s a bad idea for Doug to fall for a hostage from one of the banks they’ve robbed, but that’s the amazing thing about Affleck’s acting. You want good things to happen for this guy. You’re rooting for him even though there are plenty of reasons not to. They even toss in some father issues with Chris Cooper playing his dad (and long time crook). Plus, there’s a villain that proves to be worse than all the others with Fergie (Pete Postlethwaite).
Jeremy Renner as James Coughlin: He proved he can be a good guy with The Hurt Locker. Now he’s proved he can be the bad ass. Even though Renner is much shorter than Affleck, there’s still something to be scared about with James. He has a short temper after years in the joint. He and Doug are “brothers” for life, but that seems to come at a price. James is the kind of guy that when they hand him a gun, the audience thinks, “That’s going to lead to trouble.” The scary part is when this loose cannon starts making sense to Doug. Even though he does a lot of stupid things, James understands the rules of cops and robbers.
Jon Hamm as Adam Frawley: Yes, I love “Mad Men,” but I don’t think that’s clouding my judgment on Hamm in this film. Playing an FBI special agent, Hamm says all the right things, like “Any questions? No? Good.” That’s right, he doesn’t wait for anyone to speak up. We don’t get to see Adam’s home life, or anything else. He’s a FBI man and he’s after the gang. He puts up a great chase. Hamm nails his one-on-one moments going toe-to-toe with Affleck and also Blake Lively making you wish we had even more of this man.
Rebecca Hall as Claire Keesey: She is so good at being venerable. It’s such an odd feeling to feel terrible for her as she’s falling for Doug, the man who took her hostage and held a gun at her head. Yet, at the same time, I completely wanted them together. Hall shows a new side of herself from Vicky Cristina Barcelona and if it wasn’t for her, this movie could have easily been lost in clichés.
Blake Lively as Krista Coughlin: Dames. You know what I mean? Dames. There’s one in every movie like this. It’s a surprising turn from Lively. I’ve only known her from “Gossip Girl” and “Saturday Night Live.” Here, she plays James’ sister and there’s a kid in the picture. She’s still pining for Doug and even though she’s a little easy, Krista isn’t to be messed with.
TALKING: If you’re curious about accents, that’s under the “Sounds” section below. The script balances the powerful, sincere and funny quite well. They also hang on sentences like, “What’s the worst that can happen?” with sudden action to follow. With Affleck being from Boston, there is a certain amount of authenticity with this film (or at least I give him the benefit of the doubt). Some Boston slang is sprinkled throughout and it all blends well into this world.
SIGHTS: From the beginning, there is great control over what you are seeing with this film. During the initial bank heist we see the security camera footage and left with an eerie silence. The nuns masks during another heist are super creepy. The best is the chase sequence halfway through the film. It’s the best car chase sequence I can think of that takes place east of the Mississippi River (though I need to rewatch French Connection). The close streets and the quick navigation bring to mind European streets. For the Red Sox fans, this won’t compare how Fenway Park comes into play.
SOUNDS: The bullets are flying just like in Heat. The accents are nailed and even Hamm’s FBI agent gets in on the act, even if he is making fun of the rest of them. I mean, Affleck gets to say the name “Claire” with a Boston accent, what’s not to love about that? The first time I noticed the musical score was when Doug goes to prison to visit his dad. It immediately brought to mind Shawshank Redemption.
BEST SCENE: The easy answer would be the chase sequence, but with that we assume things will work out. After all, the movie is only halfway over. The best is really the final fight. It’s intense and I was constantly wondering how it would play out.
ENDING: I didn’t need the narration/voice-over and thought there could have been a better way to wrap up the ending. It still worked for me, but it wasn’t as powerful as the twenty minutes that preceded it.
QUESTIONS: Didn’t the FBI agents discover who was behind this bank jobs just a little too quickly?
REWATCHABILITY: Definitely. I would love to enter this world again.
Admit it. You’ve forgotten about Ben Affleck a little bit. Sure, he’s still on your mind, but it’s more about his real-life celebrity lifestyle then his talents on the big screen. Somewhere along the line it became the concept of Matt Damon heading down one path, and Ben Affleck the other. Not even his brilliant directorial debut Gone Baby Gone starring his brother Casey Affleck did it for you. Well, hopefully now you can come around and realize Ben Affleck is a Hollywood force. He’s a fantastic director (two for two) and now he’s once again given us a memorable leading-man performance. This cops and robbers (caups and raubbers) movie is a subject we’ve seen before. But the care and effort put into it makes movies like Takers seem worthless. The Town feels like a classic and fresh at the same time. It shouldn’t be missed.
FINAL SCORE: 8/10