Surprisingly (or maybe not surprisingly), I found that I really enjoyed Ben Affleck's first foray into direction, "Gone Baby Gone". I thought it was gritty and suspenseful and very wonderfully acted. So I was eager to see his latest effort, "The Town", and was pleasantly surprised when my roommate decided that we should go on opening night.
"The Town" revolves around a group of bank robbers in the neighborhood of Charlestown in Boston. This group includes both Ben Affleck and Jeremy Renner, who grew up together in the neighborhood and have pulled off many heists.
The opening scene is taut and intense, as it starts off with a bank robbery where the four guys wear Skeletor masks and hold AK-47s to the poor bank employees' heads. The bank manager, played by Rebecca Hall, is forced at gunpoint to open the safe, and then is taken as a hostage. They blindfold her and leave her at the edge of the ocean, physically unharmed, but psychologically damaged.
The story revolves around the fear that this bank manager saw something that she shouldn't have. So Ben Affleck's job is to check to make sure. Instead, he ends up falling in love and starting a relationship with this woman, while at the same time, still robbing banks but desperate to get out of Boston.
And did I mention that the FBI is on their tail? Jon Hamm, who really plays a giant prick for the most part, is the head of the FBI task force responsible for bringing these criminals to justice. And he'll do it by any means necessary.
You find yourself really rooting for Affleck here. I mean, I really didn't want him to get caught, because I felt like he's trapped in this situation that's out of his hands and he just wants to take control of his life. And he can only do that by NOT getting arrested and leaving Boston.
The performances here were fantastic. Affleck was great, putting on his native Boston accent and playing someone reminiscent of his "Good Will Hunting" character. Jeremy Renner was terrifying and at points, really funny. Just the way that he looks at you makes you feel as if he's going to explode at any second and blow your head off. Blake Lively was also great as Renner's younger sister and Affleck's ex, who's so high on coke and Oxycontin for most of the movie that she can't really tell what's going on. Rebecca Hall was solid as the new girlfriend, and was great at conveying a little bit of uneasiness around law enforcement, almost as if she was rooting for the robbers. But clearly, she wasn't. The performance was just THAT complex.
It's just so good.
So on the CWeave scale, I give this movie a 9. It's full of action, blood, f-bombs, and a little romance as well. I think that Affleck has really proven himself both behind the camera and in front of it, so much so that we're all asking ourselves, "'Gigli' who?"