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The Town

The Town (2010) – Rated R for strong violence, pervasive language, some sexuality and drug use.

Allow me to introduce you to an actor named Ben Affleck; you may have heard of him.  This man, along with his lifelong best friend Matt Damon, wrote an amazing screenplay for a film you also may have heard of, Good Will Hunting.  These two men happened to win an Academy Award for writing this film, and then went on to have two very different careers though they remain the best of friends.  Matt Damon went on to establish himself as a sort of action film hero with the Bourne trilogy as well as a force to be reckoned with in the leading man category with a couple more Academy Award nominations for his acting.  Meanwhile, Ben Affleck didn’t have as much luck as Mr. Damon.  He made a few duds, Reindeer Games and Gigli to name a couple, and then decided to try his hand at directing.  Now let me introduce you to a director named Ben Affleck; you may not have heard of him yet.  This is where Mr. Affleck found his true calling.  His directorial debut, Gone Baby Gone, won quite a few awards and successfully established Affleck as a good director.  Now, it seems, Affleck has started to receive the accolades that his buddy has been getting for quite a while.  All kidding aside, Ben Affleck has had a sort of rocky start to his career with a few hits and a few misses.  And his buddy Damon has always been perceived as the better one in this duo.  However, with his sophomore directorial effort The Town, I believe Affleck has proven that Gone Baby Gone was not just a fluke.  Affleck is a great director and a great actor after all.

The Town is not a perfect film by any means.  It’s suspenseful, tense, gritty, and written extremely well.  However, the pacing is a little off at times.  Actually, that might be my only complaint.  And it’s only a little tiny one, at that.  This crime drama is definitely character-driven and these actors drive the story well.  Jeremy Renner does one hell of a job as James Coughlin, an unstable man in a very stable four-man team.  These four men are in the business of robbing banks in Charlestown, which is where the most bank robberies occur in the entire world.  The men here pass down their occupation from father to son like it’s a family heirloom.  And Coughlin is one crazy guy.  He’s unstable and puts his team at risk on multiple occasions.  And out of the four guys, if there’s a guy who is at the opposite end of the unstable spectrum it’s Ben Affleck’s Doug MacRay.  A once promising hockey player, he ends up following in his father’s footsteps in crime.  He’s calculating, stable, and has their robberies down to a science.  At least until Coughlin does another loose cannon move and changes the plans.  Both men do a stellar job.  Renner plays his character so well that we never know what he might do next.  And Affleck shows what he’s been hiding under those cotton candy roles in trash like Surviving Christmas and Man About Town.  Affleck is a great actor.  He definitely proves it in this film.  You can feel his uncertainty when Coughlin goes berserk.  You feel his nervousness when Coughlin pops up at Affleck’s and Rebecca Hall’s lunch.  When you see this film, you’ll understand why this scene alone is worth your price of admission.  His acting and the editing get the audience so nervous that I was literally holding my breath for this entire scene.  You feel his pain when he finds out what really happened to his mother.  And you feel his vengeance when he kills the man who told him what happened.  Most of all, you actually want him to not be caught by Jon Hamm’s FBI agent.  You will actually want the bank robber to get away.  That is how good Affleck is in this role.

Will this film and the performances get any Academy Award nominations?  I have no idea.  But what I do know is that Affleck has done an amazing job and should have a new reputation in Hollywood.  One that isn’t one-half of the original Bennifer or Matt Damon’s old pal.  Hopefully, it will be Ben Affleck: great actor and well-respected director to be reckoned with.  Filmtastic review = 4 1/2 stars.

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