Ben Affleck’s film, The Town, was hailed as his return to his talent, after many dismal productions. I cannot quite understand why this movie has been rated so highly – it seems as if people are bending over backwards to give him a break. In the positive reviews, one reads things such as: “…this has all been done before,” “…solid action scenes,” “…a story with some real weaknesses, but the supporting cast is great..” etc. I thought this film was so bad, I just have to weigh in:
The action scenes were just okay. Frequently dull. As for realism, don’t ask…The bad guys do everything just right, the cops always foul up. The car chase through narrow streets in Boston was nice, but again, not believable at all. (The Town looks pretty nice – not like a gritty, impoverished incubator for hoods.) Nor is the fact that bystanders never seem to die in the hail of automatic gunfire let loose by the crooks.
The story was profoundly unbelievable. Affleck plays a born-to-the-trade bank robber who just wants to lead a normal decent life. He meets cute with a pretty bank manager and realizes what he’s been missing. That first meeting was while he was wearing a mask, and being nice to her while she opens a safe at gunpoint. “Just take your time,” he says. What a gentleman! We are supposed to believe that he then forms a romantic relationship with this woman – who doesn’t know his connection to the robbery (a bit of dramatic irony that rarely works) – magically submerging his years of acculturation in crime and just being a regular charming Joe. I won’t go into the fact that as soon as he approached the woman he would have been caught because the not-dumb FBI would have staked out her house, since the crooks threatened to rape and kill her.
Oh, yes, there’s that other town, Stockholm, as in Stockholm Syndrome. Even after the bank manager realizes who this man is, and with the clear memory of her colleague having his skull bashed in, she still, sigh…loves him. He’s so nice. So she tips him off that the FBI is waiting to get him at her place. He knew that anyway so we don’t hold it against her that she was helping a murderous criminal escape. Are we to believe that he left her all the money and started anew down in Florida? I guess they’ll get together there. And that she used the money to buy a hockey rink for the neighborhood kids? “Uh, where did you say this charitable donation came from, Miss?..” Yep, this guy is a real knight. When she tells of being harassed by local thugs in The Projects, he just goes up and beats the pulp out of them.
It wasn’t all bad. The local Irish Godfather was frighteningly cool, but he has little screen time. The scene when the robber, his nutso-sadist sidekick, and the bank manager are brought together at a chi-chi café is a nicely done bit of suspense: will she notice the tatoo on the back of the neck and end the entire charade? And the scene in which Gem struggles to take a sip of coke before committing ‘suicide by cop’ was a nice touch, but that’s it for a film that dragged on for two hours.