Jon Hamm plays FBI agent Frawley, who slowly becomes convinced that Claire (Rebecca Hall) knows more than she is letting on.
If you were sitting on the fence as to whether or not you should see the The Town this weekend this review ought to help you decide.
Ben Affleck plays a reluctant robber in this well-crafted heist film (he also directs and co-wrote the screenplay based on Chuck Hogan’s novel Prince of Thieves). A film with fine performances, firepower, inventive getaways and dramatic tension, resulting in a heist movie that feels fresh, even when it touches the same notes as some of its predecessors.
Starring: Ben Affleck, Jon Hamm, Jeremy Renner and Blake Lively
Rating: Four and a half stars out of five
If you had a nickel for every movie that featured criminals engaged in one last big score, you could probably afford to mount a Broadway musical production of Avatar. (James Cameron, if you’re reading this — no need to thank me.) The Town adds a slight but important twist, however: The criminal doesn’t really want to do the job.
The reluctant robber is Ben Affleck, who also co-wrote the screenplay (based on Chuck Hogan’s novel Prince of Thieves) and directed the film. This is Affleck’s first writing/directing gig since his well-received Gone Baby Gone in 2007, and the first time he has combined all three talents in one film. If he felt thinly spread, it doesn’t show.
The movie opens with a bang, as Doug MacRay (Affleck) leads a gang of four who attack a Boston bank with brutal efficiency. There are fascinating details right off the bat, as the robbers throw the employees’ collected cellphones into a fishbowl, and bleach the crime scene to kill any trace of DNA evidence.
Later in the film, Affleck’s character jokes, “I watch a lot of CSI. Miami, New York. And Bones.” But it’s clear that, as screenwriter, he’s done more than just study bank heists from other movies.
On the way out the door, there’s an unexpected wrinkle. They grab a hostage, Claire (Rebecca Hall), blindfolding her and letting her go a few blocks away. Fearful she may have seen or heard enough to help the police, Doug decides to shadow her and find out what she knows.
He arranges to bump into her at a laundromat, and she tells him about her recent trauma. “Sorry,” he says. Her response is one of the most ironic “It’s-not-your-faults” ever to hit the screen.
From this point, Doug’s double life is almost certain to cause him grief. His wooing of Claire quickly moves from an act of damage control to one of true affection. Meanwhile, there’s work to be done. Boston’s banks aren’t going to rob themselves, and Doug’s crime boss (a great supporting turn by Pete Postlethwaite) is getting impatient for the next hit.
Affleck’s eye for detail informs the entire film. Take this exchange between Doug and his hotheaded right-hand-man, played by Jeremy Renner (The Hurt Locker). “I need your help,” Doug says. “I can’t tell you what it’s about, you can never ask me about it later, and we’re going to hurt some people.” Renner fires back: “Whose car we gonna take?”
Later, when an armoured-truck holdup goes wrong, Affleck delivers an extended car chase that’s actually three separate set pieces. The first ends in a shootout, but the bad guys manage to drive off again into chase No. 2, which concludes when they switch cars, only to start again when another cop notices them.
Add to all this the surreal effect of having the bank robbers dressed in rubber nun masks, making them appear like Catholic extras in a Planet of the Apes movie. It’s all very clever — or “smaht,” as the heavily accented Boston characters would say.
It’s all quite believable, too, thanks to the continuing flood of details that place us not only in Boston’s Charleston neighbourhood — the film calls it the bank-robber capital of America — but in the shoes of Doug and his blue-collar cronies. The only cop we get to know is Jon Hamm’s FBI agent Frawley, who slowly becomes convinced that Claire knows more than she is letting on.
Meanwhile, Doug visits his dad in prison (another fine supporting role, this time by Chris Cooper), ruminates about his long-lost mother and his budding romance with Claire, and decides it might be best to skip the town before it swallows him up. Cue the last big score, as Postlethwaite’s character orders him to lead a raid on Fenway Park after a three-game home stand. For its iconic nature, if not quite the take, Doug might as well be robbing Fort Knox.
The Town’s final act ramps up the firepower, the inventive getaways and the dramatic tension in lockstep, resulting in a heist movie that feels fresh, even when it touches the same notes as some of its predecessors. Maybe Fenway Park had an effect on Affleck, convincing him that, even as you swing for the fences, you need to cover all your bases.
Release date: Friday September 17, 2010 Wide Genre: Thriller, Drama, Suspense Running Time: 2 hr. 3 min. Director: Ben Affleck Studio: Warner Bros. Pictures Producer(s): Graham King, Basil Iwanyk Screenplay: Peter Craig, Ben Affleck, Aaron Stockard Cast: Ben Affleck, Rebecca Hall, Jon Hamm, Jeremy Renner, Blake Lively, Titus Welliver, Pete Postlethwaite, Chris Cooper Official Site:thetownmovie.warnerbros.com Rating:R for strong violence, pervasive language, some sexuality and drug use Available film art:The Town movie posters
Synopsis There are over 300 bank robberies in Boston every year. And a one-square-mile neighborhood in Boston, called Charlestown, has produced more bank and armored car robbers than anywhere in the U.S.
One of them is Doug MacRay (Ben Affleck), but he is not cut from the same cloth as his fellow thieves. Unlike them, Doug had a chance at success, a chance to escape following in his father’s criminal footsteps. Instead he became the leader of a crew of ruthless bank robbers, who pride themselves on taking what they want and getting out clean. The only family Doug has are his partners in crime, especially Jem (Jeremy Renner), who, despite his dangerous, hair-trigger temper, is the closest thing Doug ever had to a brother.
However, everything changed on the gang’s last job when Jem briefly took a hostage: bank manager Claire Keesey (Rebecca Hall). When they discover she lives in Charlestown, Jem gets nervous and wants to check out what she might have seen. Knowing what Jem is capable of, Doug takes charge. He seeks out Claire, who has no idea that their encounter is not by chance or that this charming stranger is one of the men who terrorized her only days before.
As his relationship with Claire deepens into a passionate romance, Doug wants out of this life and the town. But with the Feds, led by Agent Frawley (Jon Hamm), closing in and Jem questioning his loyalty, Doug realizes that getting out will not be easy and, worse, may put Claire in the line of fire. Any choices he once had have boiled down to one: betray his friends or lose the woman he loves.
Release date: Friday September 17, 2010 Genre: Horror Running Time: 1 hr. 20 min. Director: John Erick Dowdle Studio: Universal Pictures Producer(s): M. Night Shyamalan, Sam Mercer Screenplay: Brian Nelson Cast: Chris Messina, Logan Marshall-Green, Geoffrey Arend, Bojana Novakovic, Jenny O’Hara, Bokeem Woodbine, Jacob Vargas Official Site:universalpictures.com/devil Rating:PG-13 for violence and disturbing images, thematic material and some language including sexual references Available film art:Devil movie posters
Synopsis Five strangers in Philadelphia begin their day with the most commonplace of routines. They walk into an office tower and enter an elevator. As they convene into this single place, they are forced to share a confined space with strangers. Nobody acknowledges anybody else. They’ll only be together for a few moments. But what appears to be a random occurrence is anything but coincidental when the car becomes stuck. Fate has come calling. Today these strangers will have their secrets revealed, and face a reckoning for their transgressions. Slowly, methodically, their situation turns from one of mere annoyance to sheer helplessness and abject terror. Terrible things begin to happen to each of them, one by one, and suspicion shifts as to who among the five is making it all happen… until they learn the unspeakable truth: one of them is the Devil himself. As those on the outside try in vain to free them, the remaining passengers realize that the only way to survive is to confront the very wickedness that has led them to today.
Release date: Friday March 4, 2011 Wide Genre: Animation, Family, Comedy Director: Gore Verbinski Studio: Paramount Pictures Producer(s): Graham King, Gore Verbinski, John B. Carls Screenplay: John Logan Cast: Johnny Depp, Isla Fisher, Abigail Breslin, Alfred Molina, Bill Nighy, Harry Dean Stanton, Ray Winstone, Timothy Olyphant Official Site:rangomovie.com Rating:Not Yet Rated Available film art:Rango movie posters
Synopsis The story of a chameleon with an identity crisis.
Release date: Friday October 29, 2010 Wide Genre: Horror Director: Kevin Greutert Studio: LionsGate Entertainment Producer(s): Mark Burg, Oren Koules Screenplay: Marcus Dunstan, Patrick Melton Cast: Tobin Bell, Gina Holden, Costas Mandylor Official Site:saw3dmovie.com Rating:R for sequences of grisly bloody violence and torture, and language. Available film art:Saw 3D movie posters
Synopsis As a deadly battle rages over Jigsaw’s brutal legacy, a group of Jigsaw survivors gathers to seek the support of self-help guru and fellow survivor Bobby Dagen, a man whose own dark secrets unleash a new wave of terror… The first theatrical feature to be shot exclusively on the cutting-edge SI-3D digital camera system, SAW VII 3-D brings the horrifying games of Jigsaw to life like never before.
Release date: Friday November 12, 2010 Wide Genre: Action Director: Tony Scott Studio: 20th Century Fox Producer(s): Mimi Rogers, Julie Yorn, Tony Scott Screenplay: Mark Bomback Cast: Chris Pine, Denzel Washington, Rosario Dawson Official Site:unstoppable.com Rating:PG-13 for sequences of action and peril, and some language. Available film art:Unstoppable movie posters
Synopsis Denzel Washington and Star Trek’s Chris Pine star in this action thriller from director Tony Scott. The plot surrounds two locomotive operators who team up to stop a runaway train filled with explosives.
Release date: Friday September 24, 2010 Genre: Documentary, Special Interest, Drama Running Time: 1 hr. 26 min. Director: Ariel Schulman, Henry Joost Studio: Universal Pictures Producer(s): Marc Smerling, Henry Joost, Ariel Schulman, Andrew Jarecki Cast: Nev Schulman, Angela Wesselman-Pierce, Ariel Schulman, Henry Joost Official Site:iamrogue.com/catfish Rating:PG-13 for some sexual references Available film art: Catfish movie posters
Synopsis An unexpected odyssey unfolds after a filmmaker’s brother begins receiving unusually advanced paintings from a supposedly eight-year-old girl.
Martin Scorsese dishes, over at The Daily Beast, about the gangster films that had a profound effect on the way that he thought about crime and how he would eventually portray it on film. The list includes a few films that you have heard of such as Cagney’s The Public Enemy, White Heat, The Roaring Twenties, and Scarface (1932 Paul Muni). But there are quite a few obscure titles that you are probably not familiar with like Pete Kelly’s Blues and Force of Evil. Read on:
Here are 15 gangster pictures that had a profound effect on me and the way I thought about crime and how to portray it on film. They excited me, provoked me, and in one way or another, they had the ring of truth.
I stopped before the ‘70s because we’re talking about influence here, and I was looking at movies in a different way after I started making my own pictures. There are many gangster films I’ve admired in the last 40 years—Performance, the Godfather saga, Leone’s Once Upon a Time in America, The Long Good Friday, Sexy Beast, John Woo’s Hong Kong films.
Check out the video of two of 15 movies below and click here to see the other 13.
Milla Jovovich reprises her role as Alice in the fourth Resident Evil film, Resident Evil: Afterlife. This is the first in the series to be shot in 3-D and it also marks the return of director Paul W.S. Anderson, who opted to just write and the second and third films.
Synopsis: In a world ravaged by a virus infection, turning its victims into the Undead, Alice (Milla Jovovich), continues on her journey to find survivors and lead them to safety. Her deadly battle with the Umbrella Corporation reaches new heights, but Alice gets some unexpected help from an old friend. A new lead that promises a safe haven from the Undead takes them to Los Angeles, but when they arrive the city is overrun by thousands of Undead – and Alice and her comrades are about to step into a deadly trap.
Cast: Milla Jovovich, Ali Larter, Wentworth Miller; Directed by: Paul W.S. Anderson
Release date: Friday November 5, 2010 Genre: Comedy, Adventure Director: Todd Phillips Studio: Warner Bros. Pictures Screenplay: Alan R. Cohen, Alan Freedland, Adam Sztykiel, Todd Phillip Producer(s): Todd Phillips, Dan Goldberg Cast: Robert Downey Jr., Zach Galifianakis, Michelle Monaghan, Jamie Foxx, Alan Arkin Official Site:duedatemovie.warnerbros.com Rating:Not yet rated Available film art:Due Date movie posters
Synopsis Peter Highman (Robert Downey Jr.) is an expectant first-time father whose wife’s due date is a mere five days away. As Peter hurries to catch a flight home from Atlanta to be at her side for the birth, his best intentions go completely awry when a chance encounter with aspiring actor Ethan Tremblay (Zach Galifianakis) forces Peter to hitch a ride with Ethan—on what turns out to be a crosscountry road trip that will ultimately destroy several cars, numerous friendships and Peter’s last nerve.