September 23, 2010

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The Town (R)
Ben Affleck and company pull out those Depahhhhhted accents for The Town, a cops and robbers movie that feels like it should be a bigger deal than it really is.

We meet Doug MacRay (Ben Affleck), James Coughlin (Jeremy Renner) and the shifty-looking goobers that make up their Charlestown, Mass.,-based crew as they prepare to rob a bank in Cambridge. A mix of gun power and technical knowledge of the layout and workings of the bank and surrounding streets helps them get down to business fairly quickly, much to the terror of the people in the bank including bank assistant manager Claire (Rebecca Hall). She is the one forced to open the vault for the robbers and the one who, after a silent alarm is triggered, is taken as a hostage by the crew. They make their getaway and drop her off unharmed but take her driverís license and threaten her about offering any help to the FBI, which shows up in the form of Adam Frawley (Jon Hamm) and his team. They have been chasing bank robbers from Charlestown and have little to go on. But a few threads from this robbery help Frawley zero in on MacRay and Coughlin.

In classic criminal-gang tradition, MacRay is the cautious one and Coughlin is the headstrong moron. It was Coughlinís decision to take Claire as a hostage ó one the rest of the crew disagrees with. When he announces his plan to ďtake care ofĒ this potential witness after the fact, MacRay says heíll handle it. Naturally, a little following leads to a little talking and soon Claire is all giggly over one of the men who terrorized her at the bank. Unknowingly, which is important later.

The Town is a perfectly OK movie. Some day, late winter probably, Iíll be home, camped out on the couch with tea, a blanket and a head cold. Iíll be surfing around, looking for something that I can watch while in a Nyquil fog. Iíll flip to The Town. And, assuming there are no Lennie Brisco Law & Orders on, Iíll probably stay there. That is about the speed of this movie.

Which is not to say itís a bad movie. The acting is, across the board, decent and rises to something like noteworthy with Jeremy Renner. He plays a squirrelly, nutty guy and does it in a way that lets us can understand him without necessarily sympathizing with him. There is a nice authenticity that Affleck creates in the movie overall. He uses locations, supporting actors and extras and a general tone that make you feel like youíre watching something about Boston, not just some fake generic East Coast city with a showy accent. Blake Lively shows up to play Coughlinís sister and Dougís former girlfriend. She is very good ó maybe too good, snarks the schadenfreude in me ó a playing a rundown, worn-out girl who is old before her time.

But the movie doesnít push beyond ďfine.Ē I felt interested while watching it, but not engrossed. The Town does everything right but it doesnít do anything extraordinary. B-

Rated R for strong violence, pervasive language, some sexuality and drug use. Directed by Ben Affleck and written by Peter Craig, Ben Affleck and Aaron Stockard (from a novel by Chuck Hogan), The Town is two hours long and distributed in wide release by Warner Bros.