I don't know why everyone craps all over Ben Affleck. I know he dated Jennifer Lopez and made some awful movies, but the guy is pretty talented. Especially after making The Town, where he joins the ranks of masters like Orson Wells in the respect that he Produced, Wrote, Stared in and Directed this film. Here's the kicker too - it's great! The Town was a movie that seemed like another rip off of Martin Scorsese's The Departed, but really it's a rip off of the 1995 crime drama Heat. Both films are about what happens when a criminal lets his guard down and falls in love. I revere Heat and consider it one of the best crime dramas of all time. It's better than The Town in some aspects. That being said though, there are some things that The Town did better too (gasp!) Both have stellar casts. Heat had Robert DeNiro and his partner in crime, Val Kilmer, being chased by cop, Al Pacino. The Town has Ben Affleck and his partner in crime played by Oscar-nominated Jeremy Renner (The Hurt Locker) being chased by FBI agent, John Hamm (Mad Men, 30 Rock). Affleck writes a great sense of who these characters are and how they're a violent product of their crummy Boston environment. He crafts the dialogue well and it's always refreshing to hear him wield a Boston accent. The interplay between the characters is done well and suspenseful at times, although it's not nearly done as well as Heat did. But in The Town's defense, they achieved a near comparable level of quality in half the time that Heat did, which feels longer than the 3 hour run time it has. The one thing that The Town has over Heat though is the action sequences that are pretty epic in scope. The climax of the film is a shoot out in the bowels of Fenway Park, which I would imagine is a wet dream for anyone who loves Boston as much as they love crime. Affleck flexes his directoral muscle in this. His first attempt, Gone Baby Gone, was excellent but pulled back in the aggression of the scale. The Town doesn't pull punches and shows his skill as someone who's capable of capturing action scenes on film just as well as he captures human drama. If this is a sign of what is to come from Ben, I think we can almost forgive him for Gigli...and move on from The Summer of Benifer.
The Town (Rated R)
Gavin Grade: A