The only way “The Town” is going to surprise you is if you’re expecting to be.
For those who put “The Departed,” “Se7en” or “Heat” on your favorite movies list on Facebook, you’ll probably be adding “The Town.” It’s a great crime thriller with developed characters and well-written plot, but it just doesn’t rise above the typical clichés of the genre.
Welcome to Charlestown, Mass.
More banks are robbed in this little blue-collar town then anywhere else in the world. Bank robbing here is a trade passed down from generation to generation. “The Town” thrusts you through the winding, narrow streets of Boston, where Doug MacRay (Ben Affleck) and four of his friends find out that there are no easy getaways.
The characters in this movie are so compelling that you’ll forget to go to the bathroom. Instead of being the typical bank robbing mastermind, MacRay is a failed hockey player and an Oxycodone addict, forced to work for the Irish Mafia. It felt like Affleck tried a bit too hard to portray MacRay as a victim, but he certainly made for an interesting character to watch.
The plot of “The Town” cuts so deep that it bleeds all over your face. It commented on the little-known effects of the Irish mafia on the economic and social climate of Charlestown. It established a convincing subplot of MacRay’s relationships with his imprisoned father and runaway mother. It told a relatable story of MacRay’s dream to escape the poor environments of Charlestown.
One critique is that the story focused too heavily on MacRay’s character while other, equally interesting characters are left to the wayside. Affleck got a little too selfish with the camera, but that’s just what happens when he stars, directs and writes the screenplay for a movie.
Given how intense “The Town” was, it was paced very well. It manages to energize you with the action, rather than become tiring. No moment was too dull and the action never felt shallow.
Setting the movie in Boston was definitely a smart call. There have been a lot of crime movies set in Boston, but something about that exultant “tough Irish guys” Boston attitude is consistently charming. Not to mention, Boston accents are always hilarious.
However, call me unromantic, but I hate the cliché of criminals risking their neck for love, and this movie does nothing to convince me otherwise. It’s just impractical.
Maybe it’s just because I’m still reeling from how mind-boggling “Inception” was, but “The Town” just didn’t feel that original or inventive. Not much separates it from the long list of other crime thrillers. But if you have a free night, it’s still definitely worth seeing.