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The Town movie poster

The Town: Movie Review

Drama, Thriller
Rated: R
Directed by: Ben Affleck
Starring: Ben Affleck, Jeremy Renner, Rebecca Hall, Jon Hamm, Blake Lively, Pete Postlethwaite, Chris Cooper, Titus Welliver
Released by: Warner Bros. Pictures

In Short: Ben Affleck’s triple threat of actor, director and screenwriter is a well-made cinematic exploration of a gang of Boston bank robbers, but it tells a story we have all seen before, perhaps one too many times.

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On "The Town"
Bank Robbery Redux

It’s been three years since Ben Affleck moved into the director’s chair with “Gone Baby Gone,” a gritty crime drama set in his hometown of Boston. That was an admirable debut, and his sophomore effort “The Town” is a worthy follow-up, except for one big problem: we’ve seen this movie before more times than we can count.

So while it is a well-directed and well-acted film about a team of bank robbers plying their illegal trade in Boston, it holds no surprises for anyone who actually goes to the movies (or cues up their Netflix discs) regularly. From watching James Cagney in “White Heat” to the countless Dillinger biopics to “Bonnie and Clyde” to Pacino and De Niro in “Heat,” we know this plot inside and out. Add in other heists to the story instead of just bank robberies, and we’ve seen it a zillion times, no less.

Jon Hamm in The Town Jeremy Renner and Ben Affleck in The Town

Despite Affleck’s valiant screenwriting attempts to tweak his tale into something new and different, it is basically the same old story. It follows a gang of bank robbers hailing from Boston’s legendary crime haven of Charlestown, with predictable results. A guy grows up in a crime family, he and his friends start robbing banks, a few determined cops or FBI agents relentlessly chase them and it does not go well in the end. We’ll leave it to you to discover if the leading crook (played by Affleck) makes it out alive. That’s the only thing in question throughout the film; otherwise, it follows the time-honored formula for a heist flick without a single deviation.

All that is not to say that “The Town” isn’t worth seeing; it is. Affleck gives a fine performance as the mastermind who is ready to get out while he still can; Jeremy Renner is very believable as his best friend, a violence-prone hothead who loves the thrill of the score; Jon Hamm is cool as the FBI agent bent on destroying the gang; and Blake Lively, of TV’s “Gossip Girl,” lets it all hang out as a townie drug addict with a yen for Ben. Some of the action sequences are first-rate, too; and the love that Affleck has for his hometown shows through in some terrific visuals of the City on the Hill. It’s just that we wish the story itself had something new, different or special about it, and sadly, it doesn’t.

Reviewed by Jenny Peters


(Updated 09/16/10 CT)

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