The Town has been out and about in movie theaters for a little over a week now but I only got to see it now (scheduling and life happen) and considering that it is, apparently, the #1 movie in America right now, I think it’s worth reviewing, from me to you.
The main problem The Town has is that while it is a perfectly decent movie, it is not living up to the expectations it’s excellent trailer set:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Tm_r-_PzTE
I remember seeing the trailer and wanting it to be a cross between “The Departed” and “HEAT” BUT WITH A REAL LIVE LOVE STORY somehow in there, making it, essentially, the perfect movie. And I actually have pretty good faith in Ben Affleck: aside from that J.Lo dating/career digression he’s been smart, not-to-flashy and “Gone Baby Gone” was actually much better and game than most other movies that came out a couple of years a go. Plus, “The Town” (horrible, generic name aside) comes with a solid gold pedigreed cast: Affleck presides over Jeremy Renner (freshly off of “The Hurt Locker”), the very intriguing miss Rebecca Hall (last seen looking way to smart and classy and regal to be Scarlett’s friend in “Vicky Cristina Barcelona”), Jon Hamm in his first major movie role since gaining Don Draper clout, Blake Lively getting real, and the man with the saddest face in America, Chris Cooper (+ solid supporting cast headed up by Pete Postelthwaite).
The story is set in Charlestown, where Ben et al are robbing banks left, right and center, and then alternating their spare time between unfortunate drinking and sleeping around decisions (even if the bad sleeping around decision involves sleeping with Blake Lively who is still impossibly gorgeous even when they try to make her look haggard) and in general living little, angry lives. On their last job Jeremy Rattner’s (volatile, on-edge) Jim character kidnaps Rebecca Hall’s bank manager Claire and then freaks out because well, she may have seen something, and she needs scaring. Ben announces “he will take care of it” and proceeds to PROMPTLY fall in love with her over laundromats and lemonade lunches because, and this is the oldest cliche in the book, she is not like the other girls he knows, but, you know, the kind of girl you see a future with (translated into standard issue cinematic speak this reads as: a brunette with sad eyes and freckles who wears layered clothes and drives a hybrid as opposed to a blonde bombshell with pursed lips, a push up bra and a chinese symbol tattoo on her shoulder).
OF COURSE, he doesn’t tell her who he really is and OF COURSE, this is not good news.
Simultaneously Jon Hamm’s FBI agent is on their trail, sniffing around Claire, trying to catch the bank robbers, waiting for them to make a mistake.
This is the set-up and it is all you need to know. Everything after develops pretty predictably: mistakes are made by everyone, there is plenty of violence and very little character development (some half-assed attempts are made at explaining people’s motivations and pasts, but, guys, I know you’re better at this), and the cat and mouse game Doug and Jim are playing with FBI and with the local mob boss are not going to end well, and Rebecca Hall is, criminally, left with very little to do but look wide eyed and scared and the ending is a little too Hollywood for my taste.
I know you will say that I am not liking this movie because I am a girl and all I wanted to see was romance and talk and feelings but I assure you that I enjoy a good heist/man-on-man real talk movie as much as anyone with heterogametic chromosomes. It is just that in 2010, the world has seen enough good heist/man-on-man real talk movies that we could use a little more meat on our characters as opposed to just being served the bare(ly satisfactory) minimum.