2010 // USA // Ben Affleck // September 29, 2010 // Theatrical Print (Hi-Pointe Theater)
B- - Compared to the narrative eccentricity and mournful pose of his striking directorial debut, Gone Baby Gone, Ben Affleck's sophomore effort adheres strictly to cops-and-robbers boilerplate, albeit with generous sprinklings of "Bah-stahn" Irish grit. Less arresting and ambitious than its predecessor, The Town spins a cheerless and familiar tale: a golden-hearted bank robber is beset with a loose cannon partner who stymies his efforts to go straight. In this case, the roles are filled by Affleck as a tender, teetotaling lunk and Jeremy Renner as his live-wire, bloody-minded childhood friend. Naturally, there's also a crusading FBI agent (John Hamm) and a gorgeously blank love interest (Rebecca Hall) on hand. The snag is that Affleck's romantic pursuit of the latter occurs after her stint as his blindfolded hostage. The schematic character of the story doesn't seem to register for Affleck, but he nonetheless keeps the class and cultural lines therein gratifyingly stark. The Town grinds down the Beantown romanticism of the director's past projects, with the marvelously unstudied production design conveying an unflattering urban grubbiness without resorting to the grotesque. The look of the thing—and Affleck's facility for tense getaway sequences—are enough to render The Town a worthwhile macho melodrama.