Alfred Hitchcock once said “The length of a film should be directly related to the endurance of the human bladder.” This is his theory put into practice as I endevour to carry on being a slave to film.
When Ben Affleck first turned his hand to writing his own film he came up with the amazingly brilliant Good Will Hunting (along with buddy and co-star Matt Damon). Many years later he directs and plays a part in writing The Town (2010), casting himself as the lead Doug MacRay, with Jeremy Renner as his right hand man James (Jem) Coughlin.Rebecca Hall features as Affleck’s current love interest Claire Keesey, whilst Blake Lively takes on the task as his old flame, Krista. The plot – set in Charlestown, Boston (a common area that bothAffleck and Damon find themselves holed up in) sees Doug and his gang of thugs revert to their standard source of income.
Rather than holding down a regular job, they commit bank robberies. Affleck jumps straight into thick of it, as the audience watch his foursome add another robbery to their list of achievements; however the normal get in, get out routine is disrupted when they take the bank manager Claire hostage. Eventually leaving her unharmed near the sea miles away.
The film then delves into MacRay’s life and the relationships he tries to cultivate and sustain. Although knowing he shouldn’t Doug begins to follow Claire around after the robbery, partly to check she hasn’t ratted them out to the police, partly because he is interested in her. A big NO NO in the criminal underworld – never mix business with pleasure. As they begin to date he realises that Hall’s character remembers Jem’s distinctive tattoo, seen underneath the masks they wore. From here on out things start to get progressively wrong, cue the action and violence.
As lie after lie leaves his mouth, Doug begins to hurt the people around him: his friends, Claire and ex lover Krista. Taught by the master of deception (his father) who is currently serving time, his conscience starts to get the better of him. Life is too short to be stuck in a situation that you can change, and with that in mind begins to plan his last ever job. Go big or go home!
Affleck keeps this production fairly low profile with a cast that’s fairly unassuming, he plays everything down. A clever and tactical move that created more interest than blowing the budget would have. Sometimes publicising the film to within a inch of its life is the wrong move. With an interesting take on Charlestown and its infamous reputation of corruption, Affleck uses his wit and understanding to create clever dialogue and rapport between characters. Jeremy Renner outshines Affleck as the star in this edgy crime flick. His performance once again was difficult to fault, and pulled everything together. Without him I am unsure whether it would have reached the success it did.
It’s hard not to compare it to Good Will Hunting, and in that sense it was not as thought provoking, but The Town was mesmerizing in parts. With touch and violent undertones, Affleck should concentrate on directing and writing. The time has come to leave the acting behind.