The newest Ben Affleck-helmed feature “The Town” is a solid piece of narrative filmmaking that showcases the strengths of an incredibly talented cast. Affleck, who pulls triple duty as the film’s director, co-writer, and leading man, does little wavering when it comes to his story about bank robbers in Boston.
Although the film deals with Irish crime families in a less intricate way than Scorsese’s “The Departed,” it still maintains a sense of community and fragility.
Alongside Affleck’s “Taxi Driver” style anti-hero is Jeremy Renner (“The Hurt Locker”) who helps to maintain the tension within the group of bank robbers after an attempt to silent a witness goes not as planned. Rebecca Hall as the witness and clueless love interest is mildly forgettable for the first half of the film but goes through a character arc that is completely natural and believable by the end.
The action scenes are relatively far apart but are shot in such a dynamic way that the whole section pops and instantly becomes a favorite. The final showdown involving the lead FBI agent on the case (Jon Hamm from “Mad Men”) is highlighted with overhead helicopter and point of view shots that are ingeniously edited together to make you feel personally involved. The entire pace of the movie is quick and refuses to stop to dwell on unimportant details.
Overall, “The Town” is a great continuation to the promise that was “Gone Baby Gone,” Affeck’s directorial debut. Affleck is easily a better director than he is an actor, and there are nothing but good things to come if he stays behind the camera.