Wednesday, 23 November 2011

The Town - movie review

Films about bank robberies run the risk of following a formula, and one of the things that I enjoyed about the 2010 movie The Town was that it offered a fresh (at least to me) variation on the theme. In this film, the smartest of the robbers does something not very smart – he falls in love with the manager of the bank he has just robbed. Mind you, given that the manager is played by the very attractive Rebecca Hall, it's not entirely an implausible plot twist.

The film is set in Boston, and the "town" of the title is Charlestown, an area apparently associated with violent crime, although on one view, that negative images unfair and out of date. I don't know the truth of it, but I must say that, the more I see of Boston in the movies, the keener I am to visit the city one day. I get a very strong impression of a truly fascinating place.

Ben Affleck directs the film and also plays the lead character – very effectively and sensitively, I thought. His backstory is neatly conveyed, without slowing the action, as is his relationship with his fellow criminals. The mastermind behind the robberies is, of all things, a florist (that was a touch of imaginative storytelling that I enjoyed!) played by Pete Postlethwaite, who is very well cast as a menacing villain. Postlethwaite, who died of cancer earlier this year, is an actor who always made a strong impression, and he's a real loss to the cinema.

I found this film gripping throughout. I've seen one or two reviews that compare it to Heat, starring Al Pacino, but personally I thought The Town was significantly better. Affleck and Rebecca Hall are both highly charismatic, and Jon Hamm does a good job as the detective pursuing them. Among heist films, I'd rate this one very highly.


Uriah Robinson said...

This movie was based on the fine novel Prince of Thieves by Chuck Hogan which won the Hammett Prize in 2005. I read it in 2006 so I can't remember if they altered the plot for the film.

Sobriety Test Movie Reviews said...

The Town is an awesome film. Don't get me wrong, but I would never say it's better than Heat. The scene where DeNiro's Neil McCauley meets Pacino's Vincent Hanna alone packs as much intensity as The Town.

vegetableduck said...

Jeremy Renner got an Oscar nomination for his role in this film. I thought he did a great job channeling Jimmy Cagney!

Martin Edwards said...

Thanks for these comments.
I may look at Heat again, but I wasn't convinced it lived up to its reputation. Whereas The Town was great throughout.