‘The Town’ is an Affleck multitasking success



by Colin Walsh

Ben Affleck, after a life of media infamy surrounding his relationships, has begun to solidify his

role in Hollywood as a directing force.

Following his impressive 2007 “Gone Baby Gone,” in which his brother Casey starred, Affleck

took a jump with his sophomore effort, “The Town.” Pulling a Clint Eastwood move,  Affleck writes,

directs and stars in his epic crime-drama. The result is nothing short of fulfilling.

“The Town,” begins, via on-screen quotations, by telling us that Charleston, Mass., is

home to armed robberies. We get the feeling that this is a hard place to grow up in, live in or, most

importantly, get out of.

The film begins by documenting the precision and exactitude involved in pulling off a successful heist and sports skull masks and M-16s. While most films about bank robberies are only conscious of the

alarm, “The Town” has awareness that will educate even those most informed.  Camera work shows us

thieves taking out the dye packs in pre-wrapped money in the register. We see them listening to

police scanners– these guys do this for a living . We aren’t watching petty criminals, and director,writer,

star Affleck takes time to let us know this.

Affleck’s character, Doug MacRay, is the intelligent leader of a tight-knit group of professional

bank robbers. His co-workers are mostly static characters who say little and do about the same, except

for Jem, long-time friend of MacRay’s, who did a nine-year stint in federal prison instead of ratting

MacRay out.

Jem is the polar opposite of Claire, a bank manager whom the crew takes hostage early in the

film, but Jem and Claire perform equally important roles in the film. Since he wore a  mask during

their first encounter, Claire doesn’t recognize MacRay, who spies on her initially to make sure she

doesn’t have any information for the feds.

MacRay wants out badly, and Claire, an intelligent “Toonie,” which is apparently

Charleston slang for yuppie, is a connection to a life he could have one day if he gets out. Perhaps

Claire also reminds MacRay of his absent mother, who abandoned him when he was a child.

Jem, on the other hand, is a complete sociopath.  He loves robbing banks, he’s constantly trying

get his next score and he is not about to let MacRay walk out on him. The tension created by Jem and

Claire is the driving force of “The Town,” and the three heists that occur during this emotional roller

coaster are not just eye candy; they set the tone for viewers. Viewers are on edge of their seats throughout the film and that is why it works.

“The Town” has everything to make it the most successful heist film since “Heat.”

The only thing it doesn’t have is a counterpart for Affleck, who steals the show completely. A short

amount of time is spent following FBI agent Frawley (Jon Hamm) but we don’t really care like we did

in “Heat,” when Al Pacino and Robert De Niro played cops and robbers, respectively.

The movie-going public has had an onslaught of Boston based crime movies in the recent years,

but few of them succeed like “The Town.” Its winning formula of intelligence, suspense and action work

so well it makes you want more.