Ben Affleck’s new movie The Town hit the box office and stole the number one spot, taking in $23.8 million its opening weekend.
The crime thriller from Warner Brothers takes place in Charlestown, a distinct blue-collar neighborhood of Boston where crime is a part of everyday life said to be handed down from father to son like a trade. In the opening credits the quote, “I’m proud of where I come from. It’s ruined my life, literally, but I’m proud.” from a resident there sets the mood.
Doug MacRay (Affleck) was born and raised in the area. He is the leader of a gang of bank robbers but starts to realize things can’t stay like they are forever or he will end up in prison like his father (Chris Cooper, Remember Me).
The opening scene has the gang taking down a local bank and forcing the bank manager, Claire (Rebecca Hall, Everything Must Go), to open the safe and then randomly taking her hostage. The guys set her free unharmed, but the emotional damage is obvious.
Doug’s best friend and right hand man James “Jem” Coughlin (Jeremy Renner, The Hurt Locker) worries about the girl as a possible tip off to the police and convinces the others that something has to be done.
Doug steps in and says he will take care of things. Knowing he should stay away from her, he finds himself falling for the person who could mean the end of his life as he knows it.
To add to the mix Jem won’t let him just leave the business and the FBI headed by SA Adam Frawley (John Hamm, Mad Men) is hot on their tails.
The script by Affleck, Peter Craig and Aaron Stockard is based on the novel “Prince of Thieves” by Chuck Hogan.
This is Affleck’s second movie to direct but his first to cast himself in the lead role, a wise move and likely a big reason for its success.
The locations are authentic, and the action is nothing short of intense. At one point there is a full-on car chase with gunfire in the narrow city streets with the gang dressed in full nun garb with automatic weapons.
One of the funniest, yet nerve-wracking scenes is when the crew is in mid- switch to another vehicle during their getaway when they look over and see a lone cop in his car. After what seems like an hour-long staring contest, the cop just turns his head, and the gang is on the move once again.
One of Affleck’s best moves was casting Renner as his co-star. Renner puts on quite a performance as the erratic Irish time bomb, having some whispering the word Oscar.
His decision to cast Blake Lively also turns out to be intelligent. She breaks out of her Gossip Girl mold as Krista Coughlin, Jem’s sister and addict single mother.
The movie is rated R for strong violence, pervasive language, some sexuality and drug use.
Overall, some may call the plot a cliché, but Affleck’s performance and his burgeoning skills as a director make this movie a must see.