by Rick Grant
This is a rare bird in film making–an action film with an intelligently conceived script, exemplary acting by a stellar cast, and tight direction by the star of the film, Ben Affleck. In other words, it’s the best of both worlds.
Co-written by Affleck, the story involves a section of Boston called Charlestown–a blue collar neighborhood where bank robbing, armored car heists, and kidnapping are ignoble trades executed by master career criminals.
The criminal enterprises are family businesses. It’s not unusual for family members to serve long stretches in prison, while the other family members take care of business.
As director, Affleck skillfully created the gritty world of Charlestown’s streets, crawling with various criminal crews working on future jobs. Affleck portrays Doug Mackay, who grew up in a family of criminals. Breaking the law is his birthright.
However, Doug has a modicum of morality that prevents him from becoming a ruthless killer. Still, he and his other crew members go into bank robberies heavily armed with assault rifles and are prepared to shoot it out with the cops, if it comes to that. Besides, Doug is in too deep to get all high and mighty.
Doug’s nemesis is FBI Agent Adam Krawley (Jon Hamm) who is determined to break up the Charlestown haven for bank robbery crews. “They (the criminals) are not fooling around. Now we are not fooling around either.” Yes, Krawley has declared war on the heist gangs.
The usual FBI tactic of arresting one of the gang members and flipping him to inform on his colleagues doesn’t work with these hardened career criminals. They’ll do the time rather than be pegged a rat. These guys don’t fear prison, which makes them especially dangerous. Doug’s own dad is serving a long stretch.
Affleck and his co-writers created an intelligently written script that explores Doug’s conflicts. During a bank robbery, Doug and his heavily armed crew members use a blitz style attack taking over the bank. They get the bank manager Claire Kersey (Rebecca Hall) to open the safe. Then they take her hostage as insurance. When they make their getaway, they free her.
Doug’s fellow crew member, James Coughlin (Jeremy Renner) considers her a loose end. Doug fears that James plans to kill her. So, he injects himself into her life at a laundry-mat. Before long, Dough is smitten with her and starts dating her. Of course, she doesn’t know he was part of the crew that kidnapped her.
Fergie Colm (Pete Postlehwaite) runs a flower shop and leads Doug’s gang. He receives the stolen money and launders it in offshore bank accounts. The crew gets a generous share of each job. The crew members live large, gambling, visiting strip clubs and hanging out with trashy women.
Doug’s love for Claire is making him think about making a change, taking his loot from the last job and running away with her. But she doesn’t know his background of serious felonies. FBI Agent, Krawley is watching Claire and suspects she knows more about the bank job that she is telling him.
Jon Hamm plays Krawley with stoic courage, his flashing eyes and fearless pursuit of these dangerous criminals makes him a heroic figure. When the action scenes happen, they are intense with long gun battles with Doug’s crew. But throughout the running time, the focus of the film is Doug’s moral conflict. His dream of changing his life is not realistic. Claire is bound to find out about his past. Doug’s criminal record will follow him where ever he goes. It’s his only skill.
Overall, Affect’s co-written script and directing is dialogue heavy and character driven. The action and script fit perfectly together to make this film well worth viewing. It satisfies the need for a well written script as well as brilliantly orchestrated action scenes, making it a rare movie that everyone will enjoy.
The Town Movie Review
by Rick Grant