"Aided by car chases that rival Bullitt and The French Connection, Affleck's second effort as a director is even better than his first, which is high praise. Combining with Renner and Affleck, Hall’s performance is the glue that holds this movie together."
A grown-up genre flick, chock-full of compelling character dynamics and a clutch of pitch-perfect performances."
"Well-acted and confidently directed heist flick that cares as much about detailing the nuances of its characters' damaged lives as it does in executing the crew's big scores."
Jim Vejvoda IGN MOVIES
"as a director of contemporary thrillers Affleck is suddenly right up there with the likes of Paul Greengrass and Christopher Nolan."
"A well-acted, suspenseful, refreshingly intelligent and character-driven crime thriller."
"A worthy entry into the pantheon of great cops and robbers films, The Town is intelligent, darkly funny and full of harrowing, high-impact thrills."
"In addition to directing with flair and confidence, Affleck plays the central conflicted character with admirable subtlety, and there's also fine work by Jon Hamm as an FBI agent and Chris Cooper as Doug's incarcerated father. But everyone is eclipsed by the intensity of Renner as short-fused Jem."
Terry Staunton RADIO TIMES
"Affleck has crafted a well-made heist film with amazing performances from Lively, Postlethwaite and Renner."
Kevin McCarthy BDK REVIEWS
"Breathtaking car chases and ear-rattling shoot-outs are thrillingly executed."
"The Town is very professionally crafted, grown-up and exciting entertainment."
Henry Fitzherbert DAILY EXPRESS
"It's an astutely observed story, finely told by both cast and crew."
"A highly impressive ensemble cast, this smart and stylish thriller is hugely entertaining."
Julian Shaw FILMINK
"Once again returning to the streets of his native Boston, Affleck has fashioned another gritty, compelling crime thriller that offers equal parts excitement and substance. The emotional action in The Town is just as gripping as the physical action. Has all the bank robbing action you could want, plus a couple of really suspenseful escape scenes."
Mike McGranaghan AISLE SEAT
The Inside Story
There are over three hundred 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., according to the introduction at the start of "The Town", Ben Affleck's new action packed thriller set in the Boston neighborhood of Charlestown. But as Patricia Mandell reports, residents beg to differ with the movie’s portrayal of the area. In a stroll of Charlestown on a sunny day, it’s hard to believe this tiny Boston neighborhood could be "the bank robbery capital of America", the Warner Bros hype about Ben Affleck’s new film "The Town". Brick houses and old-fashioned gaslights line Charlestown’s narrow colonial streets and ordinary folks bustle about the Dunkin’ Donuts and the CVS drugstore. Boston’s historic Freedom Trail ends in Charlestown, home to the Bunker Hill Monument and the USS Constitution (Old Ironsides). Townies, those born and raised here, don’t take kindly to being portrayed in Mr Affleck’s film as "a bunch of dumb bums" (to use the words of one resident). Is it even true that this wedge-shaped, one square mile neighborhood claims title to "the bank robbery capital of America"? Boston police say they can't verify that: They don't track bank robberies nationwide, and they don’t break out bank-robbery statistics from all robbery numbers for the city. But their statistics do show that Charlestown has barely more than 2 percent of all Boston robberies, not just bank robberies. Greg Comcowich, Boston Federal Bureau of Investigation spokesman, would not confirm the truth of the movie’s dramatic claim either. "I don’t think we want to officially comment on whether a certain place has a higher count of robberies than another place," he says. But the Boston FBI (which services Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island) does track bank robberies nationwide, and its statistics show that the whole state of Massachusetts has fewer than 3 percent of all bank robberies nationwide. "The bottom line is, the statistics speak for themselves," Mr. Comcowich says. "People can draw their own conclusions." Well, if statistics can't prove that Charlestown is the bank robbery capital of America, then it must not be, right? "That’s a pretty good conclusion," Comcowich says. "I guess the author of the book or the author of the movie might be able to shed more light on that," he adds. Maggie Lloyd of The Tech Online (September 17th 2010) notes New England had 406 bank robberies in 2008, compared to 309 in 2009. Massachusetts claimed 286 of the 2008 cases and only 180 of the 2009 cases. In fact, Boston real estate agents routinely advise young professionals and families to move to Charlestown, citing its safety. Peter Looney, a townie who hosts a local TV show called "Charlestown Live", went to the Boston premičre of the film at Boston’s Fenway Park, where Academy Award® winning screen-writer Affleck appeared in front of 1,770 guests who watched the movie on a giant screen over the third-base dugout. "He still cares about us," Looney says. And, he adds: "It’s a good movie." And that is the most important factor. It's only a movie: and a damn good one at that. One which has all the hallmaks of becoming a success. Charlestown, Massachusetts has its towering landmark, the Bunker Hill Monument. It commemorates the famous Revolutionary War battle, but the town’s more recent wars have been between cops and robbers. It is against that backdrop that the motion picture "The Town" is set. It's based on the novel "Prince of Thieves" by Chuck Hogan, who hails from Massachusetts. Published in 2004, "Prince of Thieves" won the Hammett Prize.
Director Ben Affleck, who not only co-wrote the film but also took the central role of Doug MacRay notes: "It’s interesting because, on the one hand, you have this outer shell of a heist movie, but, at its heart, the story is about a guy who’s dealing with being stuck in a place he doesn’t want to be and wants to change his life, which was much more compelling to me. It’s about how rooted you are in how you grew up and also about children paying for the sins of their parents. I think that’s something many people can identify with, even those of us who can’t necessarily relate to the criminal aspect." Hogan's novel caught the attention of 2007 Oscar ® winning producer Graham King ("The Departed"). "The whole flavor of the book, with its criminals and cops, was right up my alley. But I also loved the undercurrents of the story: the friendship of these guys hanging out and working together; regardless of their occupation." Producer Basil Iwanyk ("2006 We Are Marshall") agrees. "The story has so many layers. It has the relationship between these lifelong friends from Charlestown, who are inherently doing the wrong thing, yet you care about them." Screenwriter Peter Craig says that in adapting Hogan’s novel the interwoven relationships of "The Town" took precedence for him. "Every single relationship is complex. There is a love story at its core, but Doug also has connections to Jem, to his father, to Jem’s sister, and to the rest of his crew, that are all just as integral to the story. The goal in adapting the book was to maintain the history and the depth of those relationships." King sent Affleck an early draft of the script after seeing his directorial debut on "Gone Baby Gone". "Ben did great work on "Gone Baby Gone", so we were happy that he gravitated to the material straight away. Added to that, he’s from Boston and knows it like the back of his hand." Nevertheless, Affleck and fellow screenwriter Aaron Stockard soon discovered that, despite its proximity to their hometown, Charlestown was a world away. "Ben and I both grew up in Cambridge, which is a stone’s throw from Charlestown, but there was a lot about it that we didn’t really know," says Stockard, who had also collaborated with Affleck on the screenplay for "Gone Baby Gone". We knew its reputation, but we assumed that most of it was overblown. It turned out that what we thought were mythical notions about Charlestown were actually true, which made the story even more appealing to us." Affleck recalls they did a "ton of research. We went to prisons and talked to former bank robbers and also met with guys at the FBI who were counterpoints to Agent Frawley, the character played by Jon Hamm. We started incorporating what we learned into the architecture of the story to bring in as much detail and verisimilitude as we could." "On both sides of the camera, Ben’s level of preparation was incredible. He thought about every moment in this movie," Iwanyk ("2010 The Expendables") says. "He also had the wisdom to surround himself with an amazing cast and crew, and fostered such a creative atmosphere on the set. He was always open to ideas from anyone." Adding to the authenticity sought by the filmmakers, “The Town” was filmed almost entirely on location in and around Boston, including, of course, Charlestown, as well as the North End, Cambridge, and venerable Fenway Park. The oldest Major League Baseball stadium still in use, Fenway Is the site of the movie’s climactic action sequence. Several locals were also cast in featured roles or as extras, including both ex-cops and ex-cons. Locally cast actors had a major advantage over their non-native colleagues: they didn’t have to learn to do a Boston accent; more specifically, Charlestown.
When we meet the character of Doug MacRay, he and his crew are in a van outside the Cambridge Merchant Bank, seconds away from their next robbery. Affleck revealed Doug is "banging against the walls of his own life, still doing the stuff he knows is bad for him but unable to change." "He is at a point in his life where he realizes if he doesn’t leave, he’s never going to change," declares Stockard, who was a production assistant on "Good Will Hunting". "What he wants more than anything is to be a different person." "Ben really understood Doug’s psychological and emotional journey," King ("Blood Diamond") notes, "so when he said he was interested in playing the role, we knew there was no one better." Jeremy Renner, star of the 2010 Oscar ® winning film "The Hurt Locker" (six Oscars ®), was cast as Jem. Affleck ("Paycheck") notes: "Doug and Jem have a complicated back story. They’ve been best friends since they were kids, but they have become very different people." Renner, who played Brian Gamble in the 2003 film S.W.A.T., agrees that Jem is "a wildcard. He’s flawed: maybe more flawed than others; but there are moments when you see another sides. It was important to me that Jem be a fully realized human being and not just some gun-toting thug. I understood that he could be a scary guy, but I also wanted to bring a sense of humor and heart to him." "He transformed Jem from being just a crazy menace to someone I was emotionally invested in," Iwanyk ("Firewall") revealed. "My heart broke for him, which is something I didn’t anticipate when I first read the script." Renner says that Affleck: both as a director and as a castmate; made portraying the enduring friendship between Jem and Doug a natural. "I felt like I was working with one of my best friends." Rebecca Hall (Vicky in "Vicky Cristina Barcelona") was cast as the film's love interest, Cambridge Merchant Bank Manager, Claire Keesey. Affleck says he cast her, not only because "she is beautiful and incredibly talented, but she has this way about her that feels real. That kind of honesty and normalcy was especially important for this role. You believe she is somebody who could work in a bank. She seems like she could be someone who just moved into this neighborhood." "I thought it was fascinating that this sort of, for lack of a better word, 'yuppie' kind of woman: what the local Townies call a 'Toonie'; is making her home there and going about her life even after what happens to her. I thought there had to be something strong and sassy about her, that she refuses to be victimized. It made her interesting to play." 2008 Teen Choice Award winner Blake Lively (TV'S "Gossip Girl") was cast as Jem's sister, Krista. "All Krista wants is for Doug to love her and take her away from there. Now she’s a single mom who does what she has to do to get by." Jon Hamm ("Kissing Jessica Stein") was cast as FBI Special Agent Adam Frawley. Golden Globe winner Hamm (SBS TV'S "Mad Men") notes: "He is an outsider. But although he is not from Boston, he has a lot of experience with these types of crimes and has been there awhile, so he knows all the players." Oscar ® winner Chris Cooper ("Adaptation") plays Doug's father Stephen MacRay. Titus Welliver, who played Lionel McCready in "Gone Baby Gone", was cast as Boston Police Detective Dino Ciampa, who is "hell-bent to get these guys." 1995 NBR Award winner Pete Postlethwaite ("The Usual Suspects") plays Fergie Colm, a florist whose business is a front for money laundering, drug dealing, and other criminal enterprises. "Pete brought great authority to the role; even when he’s smiling, he can make you believe it would be dangerous to cross him," King notes.
What It's All About
Doug MacRay is an unrepentant criminal, the de facto leader of a group of ruthless bank robbers who pride themselves in stealing what they want and getting out clean. With no real attachments, Doug never has to fear losing anyone close to him. That's all about to change. On the gang's latest job, they take a hostage with them: the bank's manager; Claire Keesey. Though they later release her unharmed, Claire is nervously aware that one of the robbers has not only threatened her, he's taken her drivers licence and knows where she lives. But Claire lets her guard down when she meets an unassuming and rather charming man named Doug, not realizing that he is the same man who only days earlier had terrorized her. The attraction between the two gradually turns into a passionate romance. With the FBI closing, Doug wants out. 'The Florist' has other ideas. He wants the gang to do one last job.
The Verdict
"Unlike most of the so-called 'critics', I've always had a soft spot for Ben Affleck, believing he's been harshly treated in the media to the point of what many would say is, beyond a fair go. Sure he's had a few duds, but I just happen to have enjoyed watching him on the big screen in films such as, "Pearl Harbor", "Changing Lanes", "The Sum of All Fears", "Pay Check", "Smokin' Aces" and "State Of Play". I always hoped, after listening to 'critics' go on and on about his acting career, that one day he would do something really special and pay them out, big time! Other than Ben Affleck, no-one could have been happier than me, when he gob-smacked the film industry, directing and co-writing the genre defining "Gone Baby Gone". The film received numerous awards including NBR Award for Best Director, Prism Award for brother Casey Affleck and NBR Award for Best Actress (Amy Ryan) to name a few. Now Affleck has gone one step further with another genre defining production, "The Town". Not only did he direct and co-write the film, he also plays a lead acting role in the film. Now most of those who criticized him have been forced to eat humble pie, for "The Town" boasts a solid cast of highly accomplished actors and actresses like Jon Hamm, Jeremy Renner, Oscar ® nominee Pete Postlethwaite (frightening as 'The Florist'), Oscar ® winner Chris Cooper and Blake Lively (Bridget in "The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants"). And that's just scratching the surface. In April 2008 I gave "Gone Baby Gone" the highest commendation. 5 STARS. I'm happy to give "The Town" the same rating. As for Affleck's career, I hope it continues to go from strength to strength. His style is in the vein of the great Oscar ® winner Clint Eastwood. I can assure you, when it comes to giving out compliments, it doesn't get any better than that. And, it will be interesting to see how "The Town" fares when Oscar ® time rolls round in 2011.
Who's Who?
Ben Affleck
Rebecca Hall
Jon Hamm
Jeremy Renner
Blake Lively
Owen Burke
Titus Welliver
Pete Postlethwaite
Chris Cooper
Dennis McLaughlin
Corena Chase
Doug MacRay
FBI S.A. Adam Frawley
James Coughlin
Krista Coughlin
Albert 'Gloansy' Magloan
Desmond Elden
Dino Ciampa
Fergus 'Fergie' Colm
Stephen MacRay
Agent Quinlan
The Crew
Directed by Ben Affleck
Screenplay by Peter Craig/Ben Affleck/Aaron Stockard
Adapted from the Chuck Hogan novel "Prince of Thieves"
Produced by Basil Iwanyk & Graham King
Original Music by David Buckley & Harry Gregson-Williams
Director of Photography Robert Elswit
Film Editing by Dylan Tichenor
Casting by Lora Kennedy
Production Design by Sharon Seymour
Art Direction by Peter Borck
Set Decoration by Maggie Martin
Costume Design by Susan Matheson
Run Time 125 minutes
Rated MA15+ [AUST]
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