film review: The Town

Reviews
by Leonard Maltin
September 17, 2010 4:00 AM
10 Comments
  • |

This is, quite simply, the best movie I’ve seen all year. The Town has everything one could ask for: a solid story, a superb cast playing interesting and well-drawn characters, pulse-pounding action, and the element of surprise. It’s violent, visceral, and completely captivating.

I admired Ben Affleck’s debut feature as director, Gone Baby Gone, but this surpasses it; what’s more, he gives a fine performance in the movie’s leading role, as a bold bank robber who finds that loyalty—to his lifelong friends, to his very way of life—has a price. He’s returned to familiar turf, as the film is set mostly in Charlestown, a Boston suburb widely known for its criminal element, and again, Affleck captures—

—the look and feel of the place with great skill.

You might think that there aren’t any new ways to depict bank robberies, city-bound car chases, or cops-and-robbers shootouts, but Affleck, his talented cinematographer Robert Elswit, and film editor Dylan Tichenor prove otherwise. Each set-piece is extraordinarily gripping.

But heart-stopping chase scenes wouldn’t sustain the film if we weren’t drawn in by the characters. There are no “stock types” here: Jon Hamm’s FBI agent plays just as tough as the criminals he’s stalking. Rebecca Hall’s bank teller is intelligent but vulnerable. Jeremy Renner, Affleck’s lifelong pal and partner in crime (literally), isn’t just a loose cannon: he’s an ex-con who figures he has nothing to lose.

There’s even an homage to The Friends of Eddie Coyle, which in many ways—not the least, its understatement—remains the definitive Boston crime movie. This film ups the ante in terms of energy and excitement, but it takes its place alongside Coyle, The Departed, Mystic River, and Affleck’s own Gone Baby Gone as one of the best films ever made about the city and its zeitgeist. I hope it’s the smash hit it deserves to be.

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10 Comments

  • phil | September 3, 2011 4:38 AMReply

    just wanted to thank the person who screens the comments in this forum. i felt that last week, after reading some negative remarks from someone who seemed more interested in his own comments and trying his best to cut someones else's to ribbons rather than contribute somthing about the film, which is the only reason we are on here in the first place.i felt the need to dispence a little townie justice on than toonie,for a moment i thought i was in the bar sceen from good will hunting stepping in front of the michael bolton clone, what a barney! thanks again to the screener nice catch dude.

  • phil | August 16, 2011 4:51 AMReply

    having grown up in providence and working union construction in boston for most the big dig, this film nails it. if you give it anything less than 4 stars than you didnt spend a day in the,place and would'nt know a grinda from a samwich!

  • mplo | July 1, 2011 7:21 AMReply

    The Town, imho, is a very overrated piece of junk, with paper-thin characters, and the Boston accents, particularly on the part of Ben Affleck, are quite overdone. The characters could've been more developed, and Claire and Doug's romance, if not dropped altogether, could've been reduced. Too much time was devoted to that one.

    The scenes at Fenway Park and in the North End were way overblown, with too much exploding on the screen, and, while Ben Affleck understandably wanted to cut the film down from 4 hours, he and his assistant producers went way overboard and edited much too much out of the film, leaving a lot of loose ends and unconnected dots, which might've made this movie more credible.

    This movie had the potential for being one of the greatest films of all times, and it fell woefully short of that potential as a consequence of all of the above-mentioned reasons.

  • mark | October 17, 2010 1:24 AMReply

    Great film - action-adventure is not my favorite but I loved Gone Baby Gone and wanted to see what Ben Affleck could do with another Boston story. Thoroughly engaging and entertaining by one of Hollywood's most promising directors. Extremely well-crafted film. Bravo!

    The love affair with the bank manager not original?

  • Eric | September 30, 2010 12:24 PMReply

    I don't agree with a lot of Maltin's reviews, but I'm glad he really liked this one. I did have to chuckle a bit at the scene where Doug tells Claire that Witness Protection will move her somewhere safe "like Cleveland or Arizona". As a Cleveland resident, I can guarantee that not every part of the city is as safe as the filmmakers think. Still an enjoyable film, and definitely one of the better heist pictures of recent years.

  • Michael McKay | September 18, 2010 10:01 AMReply

    A very entertaining genre film (the car chase scenes are extremely well shot), but completely predictable, and not a single shred of originality. It's a film I've already seen dozens of times, and in particular, is very reminiscent of State of Grace. The people of Boston must be getting tired of always being portrayed as a community of thugs, and low lifes, in films like this, and The Departed (a true masterpiece). Apparently, as far as filmmaking, this city has become the new Bronx, or Queens.

  • Boston Jay | September 17, 2010 12:42 PMReply

    Botom line, I grew up in Lynn, MA aka Sin City, 10 minutes north of Charlestown. This movie is so on point as far as growing up as white kid from the Bean. I felt as if I was watching 4 of my own friends in this movie. At every point and every character represented inercity Boston to a T. Unlike the Departed, it did not seemed forced! I give this movie 2 thubs up, and 5 stars. Best Boston movie ever done! Well Done Ben! Way to rep the BEAN!

  • Jason | September 17, 2010 11:19 AMReply

    Just saw this film today and I totally agree! I hope The Town gets the attention it deserves and encourages Ben Affleck to make more films! He's really at the top of his game and showing to be just as if not more talented than other actor/directors.

  • jason | September 17, 2010 4:22 AMReply

    Great review! I loved Gone Baby Gone and I can't wait to see this film!

  • mplo | July 6, 2013 5:35 PM

    Being from the Boston area myself, I'd been looking foward to "The Town", but I felt totally let down by it. I liked "Gone Baby Gone", Good Will Hunting, and "The Departed" far better.

    "Heat", which "The Town" is clearly a rip-off of, was way better, as were "Dog Day Afternoon", Reservoir Dogs, and "Serpico.

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