(2010) director Ben Affleck
Actor, Direct Thyself.
And lo did the mighty Ben Affleck do so in his second feature directorial effort, The Town. And lo the critics raved, as did many surprised critics of his first feature effort, Gone Baby Gone (2007).
But Ben Affleck, unlike his brother Casey who he directed in the 2007 film, is not a terribly talented actor. Even at his best, which he may be here, he’s pretty bad. Not Keanu Reeves bad, not sublime bad, just not very good. As a director, his focus on crime stories of the working class neighborhoods of his native Boston worked well in Gone Baby Gone. Yet despite his keen eye on the Boston setting, perhaps his most successful character in the film, and despite what many a critic has said, Affleck the director is not a master craftsman either.
The story focuses on a Charlestown, a neighborhood that the film suggests the highest concentration of bank robbers in the United States. And the story is about a small gang of bank robbers, led by Affleck and Jeremy Renner, who rob a bank but wind up having to take a beautiful bank manager (Rebecca Hall) hostage briefly before releasing her unharmed. When the gang realizes that she is a local, living nearby, who might be able to finger them (despite their masks), Affleck begins to tail her…then fall in love with her.
Frankly, The Town is a truly middling affair. I wasn’t so jazzed on seeing it when I saw the trailers. I felt like I could see the whole film in the trailer anyways. But having liked Gone Baby Gone, and hearing the praise for it, I thought it would be worth the effort.
It’s over-praised in my opinion. Hardly a disaster or a bomb, but a fairly predictable affair. Outside of the Boston set locations which offer some real flavor, there is nothing about the film that rises above expectation, stories that have been told thousands of times before, characters who have stocked many films and televisions shows, books, stories many times before. It’s highly average. And pretty forgettable.