The screen-writing partnership of Ben Affleck and Aaron Stockhard first had success in 2007 with Affleck’s directorial début Gone Baby Gone . The Town, Affleck’s second directorial outing sees them team up again, this time with Peter Craig in an adaptation of Chuck Hogan’s novel Prince of Thieves. The Town sees Affleck take the lead role of bank robber, Doug MacRay, who along with his friends and fellow residents of Charlestown, ‘The Town’, Boston, undertake numerous bank heists whilst trying to avoid ever increasing FBI attention. The Town tackles themes of friendship, family, loyalty, home and questions the inevitability of destiny within a broken community.
Ben Affleck first film was visceral, superbly well written, and directed with an eye and a touch that delighted. The Town is no different. The drama is engaging from start to finish and the set pieces are expertly executed. The car chase in the middle of the film, following a bungled heist on a security van, epitomises Affleck’s constant commitment to be true to a moment instead of succumbing to the draw of the gratuitous or ridiculous. All the action in the film felt necessary, and the narrative, despite the easily over-dramatic subject matter, always felt real and plausible. The same can be said for the characters and the performances delivered by the entire cast. It’s clear Affleck knows how to get the absolute best out of his actors; I certainly don’t think I ever considered Blake Lively as someone to note before. Affleck himself is as compelling an actor in the stand out role as he is filmmaker. His multi-faceted role, as actor, writer and director, meant his performance was precisely pitched, and dare I say it, flawless.
That’s not to say that The Town was without fault. In fact, in hindsight, Gone Baby Gone was the better film, however the slower pace may have allowed it to be. Where The Town stumbled slightly was it’s unfailing dedication to the authenticity of the situations and the dialogue/dialect used; there were points in which understanding the regional and occupational language used was difficult for anyone that wasn’t a bank robber from Boston. With the fast pace of the action some of the dialogue became slightly lost. However, if that’s all the problems The Town has then it won’t be too long before Affleck wins an Oscar for his brilliant films…….. oh wait…..