bill bodkin reviews ben affleck’s wicked ahhhsome new movie…
Heist movies have been a part of American culture since The Great Train Robbery in 1903. Ever since this landmark film we’ve since the heist films go from the Wild West to modern bank vaults from casinos to intergalactic outposts. Whether it be a the central theme of the film or an incidental plotline there’s heists in films every single year from major releases to straight-to-DVDs.
The heist film concept has been as overdone as a steak left on the griddle for three hours. It’s almost a completely unoriginal concept.
Yet, much like with anything in life, if you have the creativity and resourcefulness, you can turn even the most pedestrian concept into something special.
And for The Town, the creativity and resourcefulness of writer/director/star Ben Affleck, turns a very simple concept into a taut, tense, richly engaging and highly creative film.
Yes, it seems crazy that the man we derided for a decade for his schlocktastic performances in such films as Reindeer Games and Gigli, has become a formidable writer and director. After 2007’s memorable noir Gone Baby Gone, it became apparent that the former one-half of Bennifer, was more than the charming rascal from Good Will Hunting. He was able to tap into the gritty and tortured soul of South Boston. He was able to weave a highly complex story as if he were Hitchcock reborn. He was able to bring inspired performances out of veteran character actors (brother Casey) and score award winning performances out of virtual unknowns (Amy Ryan).
With The Town, Affleck exposes the popular South Boston Irish Catholic crime world to the masses once again. He paints a picture of a broken, violent personal hell with the same sad and nostalgic palate that Bruce Springsteen used in his ballads from the 70s. He’s able to inspire TV’s most popular actor (Jon Hamm) out of his most usual quite reserve and create one of the most unlikeable lawmen we’ve seen in a while. He’s even able to bring out the best performance of his own career — shedding his unflappable and annoying rascalism for tortured ambivalence and blue collar charm.
And amidst all this excellent drama and performance, lies one of the best heist films that audiences have seen since Michael Mann’s epic crime drama Heat. The shoot-outs are a choreographed ballet of systematic violence. Heist scenes have their color scheme and audio turned on there head. Interspersing of calm and chaos punctuate the intensity of the violence in this film. It’s a brutal, white-knuckle thrill ride.
Yes, amongst the sea of heist films, The Town rises to the top. It’s able to strike the balance of high-octane action and gritty urban crime drama. It’s a memorable film that’s got a great crew who are following the plan of one of the new best creative minds in the film game.