When I had first heard about The Town, I thought it offered something a bit zealous; yet when I actually watched it, I was a little disappointed in that it did not meet the expectations I had for it. This is not to say the film is bad, by no means, but rather I felt it was a little 'half-baked' as a final product or a little rushed. It has been received fairly well among critics and audiences alike so for me to consider this film bad would mean I am contesting the majority of people who did in fact think this was a well-made film. So instead, perhaps this review should begin in this sense: a good film but with some issues - to put it lightly.
The plot and narrative of The Town is driven by Douglas "Doug" MacRay played by Ben Affleck who is the 'mastermind' behind a series of bank robberies at which he engages in with his life-long friends. During the course of the film, we get to know Doug as someone who is looking to 'get out' of his current situation and live a normal life. He becomes infatuated with the manager of the bank of his previous heist, Claire Keesey played by Rebecca Hall, and begins his journey out while trying to not do any harm to anyone in his path.
On the outset, The Town offers an engaging action-crime film that certainly elevates Ben Affleck as a capable director in this field. Gong Baby Gong, his directional debut, shows he has kept within the safety of the crime genre but The Town delivers the action and demonstrates Affleck is capable of going further.
What troubled me is the issue around characterisation. I felt this was poorly executed where Doug's past around his mother, father and his supposed child with his ex-girlfriend simply did not match up and in turn I did not feel I could engage with his character. After a quick conversation with the manager, he sets off to find more about his mother whom was never found when she disappeared. His bad childhood is established but it is not enough to engage and sympathise with a character whose troubled life and bad past is not fulfilled with enough information for the viewer to grasp and hold on to. It almost seems that it was thrown-in as opposed to something that develops and over time naturally in the film world. Instead we learn of his character at random which therefore gives this out-of-place feeling.
Besides Doug's character, this issue is also seen with James "Jem" Coughlin played by Jeremy Renner, where when asked why he does not get out of his situation, he replies "This is all i know". I guess the effect of this was a dramatic and emotional one, yet I felt a level of involuntary cringe that immediately prevented me from liking his character further. This is due to this idea that his situation is inescapable and ultimately his ending (as it turns out to be) and foreshadows his death. Maybe I expected the foreshadowing of his death with a little more punch instead of that typical 'all I know' gaff.
If we also take a look at Special Agent Adam Frawley played by Jon Hamm, there appears (or perhaps not) to be a rivalry between him and Doug. Little is known about him and his motifs or background; this ultimately, in my opinion, let The Town down when the Agent was clearly an important character in the film. Even the manager's difficultly in coping with the aftermath of her short ordeal is only demonstrated in one scene in the Laundromat; thereafter she appears to have been 'cured' by Ben Affleck's romantic persona - where ever that came from. But why have the characters loosely established? It could be possible that it was intentional; adding to the mysteriousness about Charleston that is further echoed by its residents. But with this, there is a lack of engagement with the characters and thus falls short of being a film worthy of any awards.
While I am very critical of the characterisation of The Town, I do not consider it to be a bad film. It delivered the action, the crime and strong narrative that will keep the action-goers happy. Yet the characterisation is rooted with issues that if needed, could be further dismantled and a harsher review would suffice.
Action / Crime / Drama / Thriller
Action / Crime / Drama / Thriller
The Charlestown neighborhood of Boston is renowned for churning out a high number of armed robbers, generation after generation. These robbers never leave their Charlestown life on their own volition, the neighborhood where there is an unwritten code to protect that lifestyle. Such robbers include friends Doug MacRay, James Coughlin, Albert 'Gloansy' Magloan and Desmond Elden. Doug and James in particular treat each other like family, as the Coughlins have realistically been as such to Doug since Doug's mother ran off and Doug's father, Stephen MacRay, was sent to prison. James' single mother sister, the drugged out Krista Coughlin, and Doug have a casual sexual relationship. The foursome carry out a mostly successful bank robbery, but due to circumstances take the bank manager, Claire Keesey, hostage for a short period before releasing her physically unharmed. They find out that Claire lives in Charlestown, so they want to ensure that she did not see anything that could incriminate ...
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May 20, 2012 at 07:09 AM