Review: The Town

A simple cops’n’robbers flick that thinks it carries the emotional weight of a drama but instead stumbles all over the place.

The Town is directed and has its screenplay co-written by and stars Ben Afleck, a man determined to make his mark in these areas and well… you have to give him credit for trying. At least you can say his robbery heist film is better than Statham’s The Bank Job
Having been unfortunately brought up in a crime-ridden neighbourhood, Doug MacRay (Afleck) is a big-time criminal; raiding banks and bank vans for a living. After kidnapping a bank manager’s assistant only to let her go (with the best intentions…) he finds her again and hopes to find salvation and a better future with her.
Yeah, good luck with that.

Heist and robbery films are frequent, so you need bankable characters (pun intended) to make it worth while. Or indeed good action sequences. The Town puts all its money on the old adage: “honour among thieves”, unfortunately it forgot to make the thieves at all likable; I wasn’t cheering for them, or even Doug himself. I was one-hundred percent behind the eeeevil FBI man who was dedicated to catching them. The film did nothing to convince me these men deserved redemption.

The film lost me when Claire (the damsel) falls for Doug and doesn’t realise he was the masked man at the bank despite her saying: “I could identify them by their voices” straight to his face. All the way through a physical relationship, she never twigged. She needed the FBI to tell her. Duh.

There is some good vehicular action in the film though, one stand out scene involves the thieves making a poor getaway and having to resort to a moving gun battle through narrow streets. It is very well shot and has good kinetic force… it is just a shame the characters are wearing gormless nun masks while doing it!

-Spoilers about the ending follow-

Doug himself comes across as dim-witted, yet apparently calls the shots within their group. You may call spoilers on this next part, but by the end of the film he is virtually unscathed from all the vigilante justice and outright crime he has committed. Okay, so he didn’t get the girl… but he did kidnap her, I wouldn’t want her to be with him, and that isn’t a punishment, that’s poetic justice. Claire too, effectively becomes an accomplice and sees no ramifications for aiding his escape. Money, public money from a public bank, is lost forever, spent and lost (okay, spent on a public service, but the point is… that’s the people’s money!)

– Spoilers over –

The Town ultimately fails as the emotionally weighted drama that it wants to be. I didn’t relate or feel for the characters I was supposed to, and even if that was somehow intentional, the ending didn’t give the alternate satisfaction either! I was apparently rooting for the bad guys the entire time..


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