The year just ended was no golden age for action, adventure, or crime flicks. Green Zone was honest, frightening, and well-acted. The Book of Eli had its moments. Australia’s Animal Kingdom was an interesting experiment. What am I forgetting?
Maybe only The Town, which was released in September and was based on Chuck Hogan’s 2004 novel, Prince of Thieves. Directed by and starring Ben Affleck, this film was largely ignored by everyone except those who saw it and felt the same tightening fist of rage that I did. As critic Roger Ebert (the best in the business) explains: “Affleck plays Doug MacRay, the next generation of a bank-robbing family in the Boston area of Charlestown. This square mile, we’re told, contains more thieves and bank robbers than anyplace else in the country. It’s a family trade, like cobbling or the law. The Town shows, as [Affleck’s] first film, Gone Baby Gone (2007), did, that Affleck has the stuff of a real director. Everything is here. It’s an effective thriller, he works closely with actors, he has a feel for pacing ...”
Working closely with his actors, in this case, seems like it must have been a pleasure--and perhaps also a cinch--for Affleck. There’s a prison scene featuring Chris Cooper as his father that grabs you by the throat. The underused Pete Postlethwaite (remember him from The Usual Suspects?) gets what’s coming to him. And Jon Hamm (who plays it cute in AMC-TV’s Mad Men) is surprisingly good as an FBI agent.
The New York Times’ A.O. Scott wrote of The Town: “[T]he sense of place--of topography and architecture, if not of actual social life--is vivid and enjoyable. A climactic caper at Fenway Park ... is fast and exciting all the same, perhaps especially for Yankees fans.”
If you haven’t already welcomed The Town into your movie-going life, get it now and clasp it to your bosom. (Though not too hard--you wouldn’t want to crack it.)
Here’s the picture’s official trailer:
READ MORE: “Pete Postlethwaite, Actor, Dies at 64” (AP).