Ben Affleck‘s The Town (Warner Bros., 9.17), which I saw early this afternoon, never made me miserable. It’s “professionally done” for the most part, but I did lose faith in it early on. It’s not what I’d call a mediocre thing, but it’s certainly not what anyone would call a believable crime flick — certainly not in terms of how a decent, open-hearted bank-employee girlfriend (as played by Rebecca Hall) could be expected to respond to a nice, open-hearted felon (Affleck) with serious mother issues who’s looking to escape the criminal fastlane.
Ben Affleck, Jeremy Renner in The Town.
It’s reasonably handled in most respects, but The Town doesn’t begin to compete in the realm of other distinctive Boston crime flicks. It’s nowhere near the level of The Departed. It’s not as good as Affleck’s own Gone Baby Gone. It’s certainly no Mystic River. And it sure as double-shit is no Friends of Eddie Coyle. (Don’t even fucking mention that 1973 Peter Yates film in the same breath.)
The problem is that Affleck cuts his character way too much of a break. He’s basically a dirty guy who doesn’t deserve to escape. But the dictates of a big-studio crime film say otherwise.
But I don’t want to put it down too severely. The Town has its moments. There are three (four?) thrilling heist sequences, and one high-throttle car chase. The performances are generally better than passable. Jon Hamm plays an unusually nervy cop; Jeremy Renner does an above-average job as a self-destructive psychopathic dog. Robert Elswit has done a very good with the photography as far as this sort of thing goes. It ain’t art but it’s high-end functionalism. It’s basically a whaddaya whaddaya okay fine whatever.