Wednesday, March 23, 2011

"Top of the Queue Review" - The Town

Ben Affleck's movie The Town is one of those films that got pretty good reviews but didn't exactly set the box office on fire.   It was #1 it's opening weekend last Fall, but never made it across the $100 million threshold in the US.  I'm not sure why it didn't quite catch on as the film is an exceptionally well made one.  Based on the Chuck Hogan novel Prince of Thieves, and co written and directed by Affleck, it is actually a fairly small film with a small cast but it also boasts some well choreographed fairly large action scenes.  It has a well fleshed out plot with some twists along the way, and fortunately doesn't veer toward predictability as it reaches it's conclusion.

The plot is fairly simple, four local friends who live in Charlestown, a suburb of Boston (aka The Town) commit a series of armed robberies.  The leader of the group, Doug (Affleck), after meeting a girl who isn't from "The Town," realizes that he needs to change his life, but his friends and fellow Townies don't make that very easy. 

Affleck is perfect in this role.   He is completely confident in his acting and considering this is only the second feature he's directed (Gone Baby Gone was his first, another Boston set film involving the police and crime) he manages to show a complete sense of control, not only of the actors but in also the way he allows the story to play out at an accurate pace.   There are really no unnecessary scenes, a true sign that the director is in control of the story.

Jeremy Renner, who plays Doug's friend, was nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Oscar.  He is an always on the edge, loose cannon, who is dangerous with a gun, or any weapon, in his hand.  It is the kind of performance that Al Pacino or Robert De Niro played in many films of the 70's.  Rebecca Hall is the girl who "Doug" meets, and she is the kind of young actress who is already showing great possibilities, not only in this film but in her Golden Globe nominated performance in Woody Allen's Vicky Christina Barcelona.

I'm a fan of the tv show Gossip Girl, and I have to say that Blake Lively who is the lead in that show is slumming big time in this movie.  She plays the exact opposite of the wealthy "Serena van der Woodsen" she plays in her weekly tv show, here playing a drugged out mother of a toddler who talks with a thick Boston accent and has eye shadow and make up that looks like it was applied with a shovel.  She is completely convincing.

The rest of the ensemble cast is also at the same level as the rest, including Jon Hamm, Chris Cooper and Pete Postlethwaite, in one of his last films.

An interesting side note - Affleck's wife Jennifer Garner has said that Victor Garber who played her father in her tv show Alias is sorta a surrogate father for her, he even officiated at their wedding.  Well, Garber has a cameo in the opening sequence as a bank manager.   And, all of you theatre lovers know that Victor Garber was in the Original Broadway cast of Sweeney Todd -yes, all roads lead to Broadway!

So, if you missed this film when it was released last Fall, put it in your Netflix queue or give it a Redbox rental today.   The film is violent with lots of profanity, so be warned.

Trailer for the movie -

Amazon link for the Blu Ray - The Town (Extended Cut) [Blu-ray]

Amazon link for Gone Baby Gone - Gone Baby Gone [Blu-ray]

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