With Ben Affleck, Jon Hamm, Jeremy Renner, Rebecca Hall, Blake Lively with Chris Cooper and Pete Postlethwaite
“This is the not fucking around crew so get me something that looks like a print because this not fucking around thing is about to go both ways.” – FBI Agent Adam Frawley (John Hamm)
Martin Scorsese has New York City, Michael Mann has LA and Chicago and now Ben Affleck has the right to own Boston in the film industry. After Affleck’s triumphant directorial debut with “Gone Baby Gone” he showed us that he can direct an extremely tight and emotionally compelling film – and with his next film “The Town”, Affleck shows us that he can hold a film together on and off the screen.
“The Town” takes places in Charlestown which is a blue collar neighborhood in Boston that breeds criminals. Doug MacRay (Ben Affleck) heads a crew that includes his best friend and devotee James Coughlin (Jeremy Renner). They are a crew of four who rob armored cars and banks; the opening scene consists of the crew knocking over a bank, where they take the bank manager Claire Keesey (Rebecca Hall) hostage.
Coughlin is the stereotypical hot headed thug who takes Claire hostage as an insurance policy. The rest of the crew because very uneasy with Coughlin’s choice to bring her with. Coughlin keeps her drivers license because he’s worried that she knows something. MacRay takes her ID and begins to tail her, to make sure she’s not talking to the police. One thing leads to another and they become lovers, with Claire still not knowing who MacRay actually is.
Enter Jon Hamm as FBI Agent Adam Frawley who shatters his Don Drapper mold. Hamm is borderline obsessed with catching the crew. He knows who they are, and he will stop at absolutely nothing to catch them. It’s not that he’s breaking laws to catch them, but he is destroying people’s lives to get to them. Jon Hamm is the stand out in an already great and impressive ensemble. The character of Adam Frawley is underdeveloped, we know nothing about him, but this is the case where if you get perfect actor for the role; that is all we need. Jon Hamm is perfect.
Chris Cooper has a one scene in the film, playing the elder MacRay. He is visited by his son in jail where Doug MacRay is in fear of the police coming down hard on him, so he wants to take Claire and go away, start over fresh somewhere, he comes to see his father one last time to say goodbye. The elder MacRay replies: “I’ll see you again, on this side of the other,” and then he slams the phone down, stands up on the other side of the glass and goes back to his cell. That’s it.
Pete Postlethwaite puts on a clinic as Fergus Colm who is the man the crew works for. He’s a “straight off the boat” Irishman who doesn’t fuck around. He’s short and to the point. He runs a flower shop, and he’s a small frail little old man, but no one fucks with him, ever. Postlethwaite is really a terrific actor, and if he’s given the right material – he knocks his roles out of the park.
This is Ben Affleck’s masterpiece and I don’t think he’ll be able to trump this film (though going into the film I didn’t think it could be better than “Gone Baby Gone”). The elements of this film are of course borrowed from other films, the heist sequences are inspired by “Heat” and “Point Break” but Affleck makes them his own, and he makes them fucking fantastic.
This movie doesn’t rely on its action sequence, but more on its performances and its human emotion. All the characters that we are shown are extremely flawed individuals. I think one of the questions that Affleck brings to us is: can humans really be humane?
This film is masterfully directed, extremely well written and all the actors in the film put on a clinic. If this film isn’t nominated for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Supporting Actor (Jon Hamm AND Jeremy Renner), Supporting Actress (Rebecca Hall), Best Editing and Best Score – I’ll be more disgusted than Sandra Bullock winning last year. Ew.