Ben Affleck has come a real long way in his Hollywood career after becoming the film industry’s golden boy hoisting his Academy Award, alongside Matt Damon, for best original screenplay (Good Will Hunting) in 1998. The actor has gone through some highs (Hollywoodland) and many lows (Gigli, Pearl Harbor) in front of the camera, but Affleck has may have found his calling behind the camera.
Affleck shows his underappreciated, critically acclaimed 2007 directorial debut (Gone Baby Gone) was no fluke with The Town, a well-written, gripping drama and love story woven into heist film. Affleck directs, co-writes and stars in a crime drama that should reel in fans of The Departed.
The film follows Doug MacRay (Affleck), a bank robber following the footsteps of his incarcerated father (well played by Chris Cooper). Doug and his crew, the loyal, hotheaded best friend Jem (Jeremy Renner), getaway driver Gloansy (rapper Slaine) and Desmond (Owen Burke), are lifelong friends that grew up in the mean streets of Charlestown, a Boston town with more bank robbers than any other city. While performing a heist at a local bank, Jem takes manager Claire Keesey (Rebecca Hall) hostage after an employee pulled the silent alarm. They released her unarmed, but her driver’s license revealed she lived blocks away from one of the crewmembers. Doug volunteers to watch her and make sure she does not talk to the FBI agent Adam Frawley (Mad Men’s Jon Hamm), which backfires when he falls for Claire.
The onscreen chemistry between Affleck and Keesey gives the film much emotion and drama in an unlikely scenario (bank robber falling in love with a victim), but the director really gets great performances from all the actors. Hamm plays the ambitious FBI agent to perfection; Renner is electric onscreen as the unpredictable Jem; Blake Lively can make any viewer forget the fact she stars in Gossip Girl by playing a drugged up town girl who loves attention from men; and Pete Postlethwaite turns in a stellar, chilling performance as Fergie Colm, a florist who organizes crime jobs.
With Affleck’s great directing and an eminent cast, there is no doubt this film will be the talk of the town for a while.