The Town

 

Warner Bros

 

Rating: R

 

Reason for the Rating: Strong violence, pervasive language, some sexuality and drug use.

 

Plot Summary: A young bank robber must choose between his desire to leave town and start a new life, or protect those he loves

 

PopFam Recommends: While not worth the money to see in theatres, this one is a good Netflix rental for parents and young adults.

 

Ben Affleck made his directorial debut in 2007 with the widely acclaimed Gone, Baby, Gone, and much has been said in anticipation of The Town, the movie he directed, starred in, and co-wrote. Unfortunately, the hype doesn't match up with what was delivered.

 

The Town tells the story of Doug MacRay (Ben Affleck), the leader of a team of bank robbers from Charlestown, in Boston. The opening of the movie tells us that this square mile has produced more bank robbers and than anyplace else in the world. It's a skill handed down from generation to generation; an unending cycle that cannot be broken. And Doug is stuck in just such a cycle. His father before him was a crook, and now Doug has chosen the same line of work.

 

Doug and his crew have recently moved from petty theft to bank robbery, and we get a taste of their work in the first scene when they rob a bank dressed in masks with every inch of their skin covered. Unfortunately, Doug has a loose cannon on his team, Jem (Jeremy Renner), who at the last minute decides to take the bank manager, Claire (Rebecca Hall), as a hostage. Although they release her later, unharmed, Jem decides that something should be done about her, as she could possibly identify them. Doug, knowing what Jem is capable of, insists that he will check it out and take care of any problems she might cause.

 

Which leads to Doug meeting Claire, falling in love, and planning to move away from Charlestown to start a new life. Which doesn't sit very well with Doug's team, nor with the local crime lord, Fergie (Pete Postlethwaite), who ultimately threatens Claire's life unless Doug sticks with crime.

 

Which is all a very nice story with action and gun fights included, but Ben Affleck's character is so soft that it's simply a hard sell. It's difficult to believe that he was ever hardened enough to want this kind of life. From the beginning of the movie he is different from the rest--introspective, rational, and more of a gentle soul. We never see a passion in Doug for, well really, anything. He longs for Claire and all that she represents, but more than anything he has long ago resigned himself to this life. This is what he was born into, so he might as well accept it. While it doesn't make for a very exciting movie, it is the way life is for many of us. Accepting the life we lead, while desiring something more.

 

Now, Jem, on the other hand, was a character full of anger and passion. He's willing to lay it all on the line for what he wants. He's killed before, and he'll do it again to insure success on a job. He's unpredictable and is the character that puts tension and conflict into this story. It would have been more interesting if HE had fallen in love with Claire and wanted to leave.

 

While it didn't live up to my expectations, The Town wasn't a total flop. Ben Affleck did a marvelous job directing, and the acting was superb all the way around. I hope he tries his hand again at directing, but with a script that has a sound storyline and deep characters, because he certainly could make an exceptional movie.

 

The Blu-ray Disc version of this film includes both the theatrical version and Ben Affleck's "extended cut," as well as audio commentary and a few behind-the-scenes featurettes about filming in Boston.

 

Let’s Talk About It

Use these questions to spark discussion among family members who are interested in this movie:

 

• Tell about a friend who was like a brother or sister. How did they affect your life?

 

• If you could live any of your dreams, what would it be?

 

• Doug was hurt deeply when his mother left as a child, and in many ways this affected his choices, even in the movie. How has Christ changed your perspective on hurts from your past?

 

--JW

 

Note: All product-related graphics in this article are standard publicity/promotional shots and are owned by their respective publisher.

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