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The Suffolk Journal

Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

Proud to call ‘The Town’ our own

Michael Christina
Journal Contributor

Ben Affleck’s debut film, Gone Baby Gone (2007, Mirimax), gained critical acclaim for its overall gritty realism and no different can be said about his second, The Town (2010, Warner Bros). Affleck’s hometown knowledge of Boston shines through The Town. This can be seen through the characters, with a cast that is as talented as the one assembled, its easy to see why.

In a movie packed with great performances, Ben Affleck has to be commended for his role. As Doug McCray, former pro hockey prospect and newly sober leader of an efficient group of Charlestown thieves, he gives great insight into a man who is split between loyalty for his crew and the life that he longs to have. Providing more conflict for McCray are the people who surround him; an aging father in prison, an Irish gangster florist who refuses to let him leave the life, and his love interest, who happens to be a bank manager connected to one of his heists. Enough can’t be said about Affleck’s job both on and behind the camera.

Every heist flick needs an unrelenting and often consumed pursuer, and Jon Hamm fits the part seamlessly. Hamm of Mad Men (2007, AMC) fame uses the same qualities that make Don Draper such a force as FBI Agent Adam Frawley, just don’t expect the same range of emotions. We do, however, get a vintage Draper monologue during an interrogation of Affleck’s character, which is not surprisingly one of the best scenes in the movie.

And, as in every heist flick, there needs to be the livewire in the gang who is liable to go off at any minute. Jeremy Renner fills that role as James Coughlin, McCrary’s best friend since childhood. As Coughlin, Renner brings to fruition a character that only knows one way of life and whose loyalty to that life is unshakable. When McCrary’s devotion towards that life starts to dwindle, we get to see Renner at his best using the same reckless abandonment that made him mesmerizing in The Hurt Locker (2008, Summit Entertainment). Renner’s performance is the most truthful aspect of the movie because as a character study it provides a real glimpse into the circumstances that often do not provide for a way out of this type of lifestyle.

Rounding out the cast is an eclectic group of actors and actresses from across the spectrum. Blake Lively turns in a convincing performance as McCrary’s on and off partner and Coughlin’s sister, Krista. English actress Rebecca Hall plays Claire Keesey, the bank manager whom McCrary riskily becomes involved with, who should make Minnie Driver awfully proud.  Albert “Gloansy” Magloan teams up with Affleck for the second time since Gone Baby Gone and plays the most underrated character in any heist movie: the driver. Chris Cooper gives a brief but solid take as McCrary’s imprisoned father, and veteran British actor Pete Postlewaite is the most gangster florist ever encountered, playing Fergus “Fergie” Colm. An exchange between Affleck and himself late in the film provides for one of the most ruthless sequences in recent history.

The movie itself works on several different levels. For one, it is a classic heist story. Now, saying classic can often lead someone to believe that there are a few things that have been seen before, which is true, but where the movie becomes predictable, the settings and real life characters fully pick up the slack. The chase scene filmed in the North End is incredible, although anyone that has ever driven down the North End will find it hard to believe that even Mario Andretti could maneuver the streets that well. Fear not, as Affleck based the sequence on a real life chase that left police stuck at the scene, so now we know that there was a “townie” with remarkable driving skills whose profession happened to be robbing banks. There is also a major scene at Fenway, which is probably the best thing that has happened in that park in the past three months. Every heist is Heat-esque, which is essential since that has become the gold standard of the genre.

Overall, the movie is successful in capturing the essence of the city and it’s inhabitants, and although it does not provide the best light for Charlestown and all of its residents, what neighborhood in Boston doesn’t have its own problems? In providing a real life setting with a great action flick, Affleck goes beyond what the normal heist film accomplishes. He provides a glimpse into the everyday workings of a neighborhood in the city and the traps that people fall into due to the harsh reality they are surrounded by. Most of all, it is the sense of family and pride that comes along with being part of that neighborhood that shines through, whether the circumstances be good or bad. The Town is a new Boston classic, and a must see for any resident of the city.

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  • C

    Cleare banksSep 23, 2010 at 3:20 am

    yes it was true that the movie had more success due to the act and directions of Ben Affleck and he was one actor who can really made the fans fall in for movies. in this movie he did have shown much more enthuse about the dramatic ventures of the movie and from time to time it was really been a good influence for the movie it self. are you some one who is still want to see it. better hurry up guys it was a interesting movie.

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Proud to call ‘The Town’ our own