Film: The Town

A solid, star-studded crime thriller, The Town (2010) is a diverting but slight watch, full of great performances without leaving a deep impression. Doug MacRay (Ben Affleck, who also directs) is the proverbial bank robber with a heart of gold, looking to leave his life of crime behind after one last score. Unfortunately, he’s in thrall to the generational organized crime in the Charlestown neighborhood of Boston, not to mention his intense, stultifying ties to the area. Doug masterminds a team of four, most notably loose-cannon friend Jem Coughlin (Jeremy Renner), who starts the ball rolling on the adventure when he takes an innocent bank manager named Claire (Rebecca Hall) hostage to facilitate their escape from a heist. Although Claire is set free, they later learn that she lives in their neighborhood, which worries Jem, because she might be able to identify them and jam them up. Doug investigates to see if they have anything to worry about, but when he unexpectedly falls for Claire, they start a relationship that threatens to put the crew on the radar of the authorities—and ruin Doug’s greater life plan.

The Town is a brisk, professional crime outing with one glaring flaw: it is so structurally familiar it might have been stamped out of a template. But it’s a polished production full of great performances. Renner is especially notable as the crew’s irrepressible problem child, while Hall is terrific as the unlucky love interest and Jon Hamm shines as the ruthless FBI agent hellbent on taking the crew down. Chris Cooper, Blake Lively, Pete Postlethwaite, and Titus Welliver flesh out the excellent cast, and the action sequences are quite well done. It’s not at all innovative or unexpected, but delivers effective results.

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