‘With Ben Affleck’s next directorial project being a solo Batman film coming out next year following on from Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad this year, I thought I’d take the opportunity to re-watch and review his three previous films he’s directed in the order of years they were released in.’
Directed by Ben Affleck
Screenplay written by Peter Craig and Ben Affleck & Aaron Stockard
Based on the novel “Prince of Thieves” by Chuck Hogan
Starring Ben Affleck, Rebecca Hall, Jon Hamm, Jeremy Renner, Blake Lively, Titus Welliver, Pete Postlethwaite & Chris Cooper
UK Release Date: 24th September 2010
As he plans a job that could result in his gang’s biggest score ever, a longtime thief (Affleck) plans a way out of the life and the town while dodging the FBI agent (Hamm) looking to bring him and his bank-robbing crew down. On top of this, he tries his best to balance his feelings for a bank manager connected to one of his earlier heists, which causes complications for himself and his partners in crime.
About three years after Gone Baby Gone, Ben Affleck brings us his next follow up as director with The Town. It may not be as heart racing or thought provoking as the former but it still holds up against it just as much as another edgy triumph from an actor/director who’s showing more and more promise. Not content with just staying behind the camera this time, he takes up the dual responsibility of working both behind and in front of the camera this time around. As any other experienced actor/director would admit, doing both these jobs simultaneously within film-making while directing one’s self in their own movie is no easy task, but Affleck is experienced and skilled enough to be able to carry this off really elegantly.
With much praise from his supportive cast and crew, he arrives on set every day equipped with as much prep as needed when knowing how to make a successful movie. Affleck is one of the hardest people working in American film today and with this second directorial effort, it really shows in abundance. He gets the right balance of analysing different scenes he shoots from behind the camera and being able to switch his acting on and off within seconds, proving that he takes film-making really seriously. One minute he’s acting a scene of dialogue with another character, then the next he’s snapped straight out of it again when directing actors in a certain way that will help benefit the story hes trying to tell. The fact he’s constantly thinking about how characters in his films are feeling, what they’re wearing, how they react, how they relate to one another etc is sure testament to him as a director rising to the top.
The Town is once again set in his hometown of Boston, across numerous locations throughout Charlestown where the planned out robberies take place. He leads another superb supporting cast too that include Rebecca Hall, Jon Hamm, an excellent Jeremy Renner and the late great Pete Postlethwaite; with a couple of others thrown into the mix that worked with him on Gone Baby Gone. Not only does Affleck know how to make riveting crime dramas so far but he also knows how to cast his movies really well with some impressive and reliable actors that make for essential viewing.
The film is a lot slower paced than Gone Baby Gone and I may felt a little more distanced away from it but I really liked the narrative in this. A different kind of heist movie with a romantic love story at its centre makes it a little bit more different and fresh. I love how Doug MacRay (Affleck) the leader of the gang, is trying to balance his personal feelings for the bank manager hes accidentally fallen in love with during the first heist we see him pull off while always being smart enough to keep one step ahead of FBI agent Adam Frawley (Hamm) when carefully executing the next big heist, with enough time to getaway. Renner’s performance as his partner in crime Jem is sensational. Playing a character recently released from prison venting all his frustration towards Doug when having to wait like a sitting duck for delaying their next big hit just when the pressure starts to mount for both of them and the rest of the gang.
I was let down by the ending in this one, which was a real shame as everything leading up to the way it ended was really gripping, edge of the seat stuff. Its by no means a bad ending at all, I guess it works in a way in terms of the story but I just didn’t find it memorable or hard hitting enough to make this film another five star movie for me. The special features are hugely disappointing on this DVD, we only get a couple of three minute long behind the scenes featurettes, one of which is about casting the real people of Charlestown. This is something we’ve already learnt from Gone Baby Gone where Affleck chooses to cast real life Boston citizens in small roles to make the film more authentic. This is stuff we already know and maybe exploring another aspect of this film’s process, such as looking into the history of robberies that Charlestown is renowned for would have been a much more interesting insight. Regardless of that, this film proves that Affleck is no fluke when it comes to film directing and I really hope he sticks at it for years to come.
Doesn’t quite hit the heights of Gone Baby Gone for me but that being said this is still a strong second attempt for Affleck as a director and a film that will keep you fully entertained for a good couple of hours.