For Affleck, some habits die hard.
No, the world has not gone mad; Ben Affleck – yes, the same Affleck who co-starred with his then-girlfriend Jennifer Lopez in the colossal critical and financial bomb Gigli – is fast earning comparisons with Clint Eastwood as far as his transformative venture from acting to directing goes. Affleck, with one corker firmly under his belt in 2007’s magnificent Gone Baby Gone, is more confident and assured in an altogether more genre-friendly outing, yet his achievement in direction here – touted by some, perhaps over-zealously, as Academy-grade – renders the film’s familiarity fairly unimportant. Here’s what is; The Town is one of the best-executed and most entertaining films of the year.
In Affleck’s searing crime drama, the town of Charleston, Massachusetts, is like a character in itself. Inexplicably, it breeds the type of environment in which 300 attempted bank robberies occur each year. Our protagonists are just such a group; led by Doug MacRay (Affleck), the line-up includes hotheaded James “Jem” Coughlin (The Hurt Locker‘s breakout star, Jeremy Renner), and two other, less-developed cronies, Gloanzy and Dez, who are essentially bullet fodder. Things get interesting once they rob a bank, and realise that the branch manager, Claire Keesey (Rebecca Hall), might have seen their faces. To stave off Jem’s violent solution to the problem, Doug tries to cool it off himself, only to, of course, wind up falling for her, while she remains unaware of his involvement. (Continued…)