So once again we have survived.

The Town

tn_townTHE TOWN is a real well done, more-realistic-than-most crime drama. Not exactly a heist movie, because although it’s leading up to an elaborate caper it’s not as much about the planning and executing of the thing as it is about the people who do it. It’s also one of these movies people from Boston make where they’re real anxious to show off every last detail about the Boston neighborhoods and culture. I haven’t been there much so I got no clue how accurate it is, but it seems believable enough. There’s a part where they have coffee at Dunk’n Donuts, that part was real I know.

It could also be called NUN TOO SOON or SECOND TO NUN or something like that. Or BAD HABIT.
It could also be called NUN TOO SOON or SECOND TO NUN or something like that. Or BAD HABIT.

Based on a book called Prince of Thieves by Chuck Hogan (they changed the title so nobody would be disappointed that Sean Connery didn’t have a cameo as the king at the end), “the town” of the title is Charlestown. Some text at the beginning tells us that this little neighborhood is the real life home to a ridiculous number of armed robbers, then some other text during the end credits tells us but really guys, there are many hard working non-criminals in Charlestown, how come you don’t go see a movie about them, huh? I was trying to remember which other movie it was that had to have a “hey, seriously though, let’s not generalize” disclaimer like that, and of course later I remembered it was MARKED FOR DEATH’s apology to Jamaicans.

The story is about this guy Doug and his four man armored car/bank robbing crew. There’s no time wasted fucking around like we haven’t seen the trailers. Right at the start they’re putting on scary Halloween masks and storming a bank. Jeremy Renner from THE HURT LOCKER is Jem, the oh-shit-he’s-going-too-far of the group – the Mr. Blonde, the Tupac in JUICE. So he kidnaps the bank manager (Rebecca Hall from VICKY CHRISTINA BARCELONA). We learn how unplanned this was the first time they meet up later and one of the guys asks “Are we taking hostages now?!” like a worker pissed off about a shitty new company policy.

They took the girl’s driver’s license, and they get freaked out later when they realize the address is like four blocks from where they live. Doug takes the assignment of staking her out to make sure everything’s cool, but he starts feeling sorry for her traumatized crying. I don’t know if everybody noticed this or not but there’s something in this scene I don’t think I’ve ever seen before. She’s doing laundry and sees a blood stain on her shirt, and obviously we know she’s thinking about the robbery. We see her face but her neck is also exposed to the camera, and if you look you can actually see goosebumps appear on her neck. Now that’s acting.

Anyway he feels bad about the goosebumps so he strikes up a conversation, next thing you know they’re dating. So it’s like one of those romantic comedies. At the end he’s probly gonna get told off, then have to win her back with a big speech about how yes, he just met her to make sure she couldn’t make him as the bank robber who terrorized her, but once he got to know her something happened that wasn’t part of the plan… he started to really love her. Then he’ll have to publicly serenade her and/or chase her to the airport.

I mean, this is not a documentary, there are trace elements of the Hollywood bullshit. He’s got a childhood backstory that he finds some resolution for at the same time as he’s getting out of the game, that’s pretty convenient. And this girl seems to really fall for him, I don’t think it’s supposed to just be Stockholm Syndrome, and I’m not sure I buy that. Also there’s a noble sacrifice that’s more thrilling-movie-drama than believable-turn-of-events. But none of this is too bad. It’s not Tony Scott or nothing. It feels very authentic for the most part.

I like that the FBI agent (John Hamm) doesn’t have some big mystery to solve. He figures out who the thieves are pretty easy and quick, but can’t prove it yet, and “we can’t get 24 hour surveillance unless one of these idiots converts to Islam.” He’s a good character because he’s good at what he does and he’s not some prick that you’re supposed to hate, like, say, the prosecutor in FIND ME GUILTY. But he’s got a little bit of doofus in him so it can be entertaining when he gets outmaneuvered, even though by all rights we oughta be rooting for him.

That’s the other thing. Doug is more a classic anti-hero than the noble thief the book title implies (unless that’s used ironically). I mean yeah, he’s more principled than Jem, and he does care about the girl, and he is trying to get out. But he’s not a good guy bank robber. He doesn’t have some good reason for what he does, and his tragic backstory doesn’t lead him to crime. And he’s not even charming like Clooney in OUT OF SIGHT or something. He’s a mean bastard. His version of doing the right thing is, like, a home invasion and severe beating of some assholes who harassed a girl he likes. And (SPOILER) he could easily come out of the movie without killing anybody, but he makes a conscious decision to execute a couple of guys. It’s very satisfying, especially since it has one of those “if I ever see you again, I’m gonna…” type of setups that are often used in movies without payoff. But I don’t think it’s something he absolutely had to do. He just does it to be safe.

He’s also very professional in the sense that he’s gonna hope not to hurt anybody, but not hesitate to spray at cops or security guards. And I don’t think he cares too much about his partner pushing a bank manager’s face in with a rifle butt.

Maybe the most damning is that he’s gonna leave town without a girl that Jem seems to think is his daughter. He gets pissed off and says she’s not his daughter, but the fact that Jem brings it up means something. I mean, does this girl think you’re her dad? And don’t you have some major hangups based on your mom leaving you? These kind of things come up without too much explanation or nudging to the audience. Good, understated shit.

This is not a slick movie, and the criminals aren’t glamorous. They’re ugly, they have shitty tattoos, their girlfriends wear too much makeup and hoop earrings and need to get off the fucking oxycontin. And it’s not shown during the movie but I’m pretty sure they’re all really into House of Pain. And possibly THE BOONDOCK SAINTS. Probly not part 2, but I’m pretty sure they own part 1. They also show no signs at all of spending all this money they steal. You almost wonder if this is really better than working at the rock quarry.

The movie is directed by Affleck, and he did a good job. Good gritty atmosphere, tense and pretty clear explosions of violence, good acting performances, good pacing, real kick-in-the-teeth serious tone with a little bit of humor to make it go down better. But you know, I heard he did a good job on GONE BABY GONE, so that wasn’t that surprising that he could direct. What did get me is how credible Affleck is in the movie as a badass. I honestly got nothing against him, he seems like a real likable and funny guy, he’d make a good politician if he didn’t have videos of drunkenly hitting on entertainment reporters. But I think about him in that ridiculous movie DAREDEVIL, or even SMOKIN’ ACES where I was so happy when his dipshit character got killed… I’m just amazed at how good he is here. Yeah, he obviously bulked up his shoulders, and he learned a gravelly voice and kept his dialogue pretty spare. But I think the real secret was mastering this facial expression:

thetown_expression

Holy shit, I think he’s starting to look like Scott Adkins, too:

thetown_adkinsMaybe it’s the subconscious fear of kicking that makes him such a good protagonist. But I don’t think so. I think it’s that he’s a very capable character. He knows how to handle shit and he gets right to it without saying much. When the girl, not knowing he’s one of the thieves, asks him if she should tell the FBI a piece of information that she didn’t mention before, his advice is ultimately self-serving but it also clearly comes from a vast reserve of knowledge about how to outsmart cops. When he decides he needs to fuck somebody up, he doesn’t hesitate, and the movie doesn’t either. They just jump right to it.

This is a real good one. It’s got enough emotion in there that it seems like he’s reaching for something other than just a generic Hollywood thriller, but it’s got more than enough of the goods to know that it’s not an Oscar he’s reaching for. This is a real crime movie.

I got a theory, his partner Matt Damon left him behind to go star in some Clint Eastwood movies, so Affleck is thinking “how am I gonna get him back?” and he decides well shit, I’ll try my damndest to be Clint Eastwood. He directs himself in this tough guy role, and he’s probly taking piano lessons.

Damn, Daredevil, you’re a real filmatist. I’m impressed. What was that Robin Williams thing he got the Oscar for? Am I gonna have to watch that shit?

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.
This entry was posted on Monday, September 27th, 2010 at 1:50 am and is filed under Crime, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

73 Responses to “The Town”

  1. Sean Connery, the Scottish king of England.

  2. Hey Vern, thanks for the review. I got to work on THE TOWN when it filmed here in Boston (mostly the North End heist and chase scenes); it was awesome, and I’m glad you liked it and glad it’s doing so well and audiences are enjoying it.

    But I’m surprised you didn’t mention the action! The days I was on it was all old-school, live-on-set stuntmen/pyro/car stunts/squibs/glass-breaking real stuff: I don’t think there’s one CGI enhanced action moment in the whole film. Hope it delivered for the action authorities around here and was a riposte to shaky-cam CGI post-action.

    And I really liked the final film. A terrific new Boston movie.

  3. Have been looking forward to seeing this for a while now. Ben Affleck gets a rough time for some of his movies, but he is a top actor and so it would seem, a top director too. I think the knives came out for him for the movie with Jennifer Lopez and Kevin Smith. Poor bastard deserves another crack of the whip in my opinion.

  4. Awesome, man. I agree entirely. And “House Of Pain” — awesome.

    Not for nothing, but I brought up the Eastwood thing too (I think we’re on to something): http://chud.com/articles/blogs/2927/Slow-Motion-Quick-Draw-153-a-The-Town-2010.html

  5. Oh and I love Boston too, I was there in 2004 and 2008 when the Red Sox won the world series. So I like to think of myself as lucy mascot. And Samuel Adams Octoberfest beer is the drink I would most like to drown myself in.

  6. Ace: That’s a shame, really, because JERSEY GIRL is Smith’s best film and overall criminally underrated. (Not to mention that Lopez is in it for less than 10 minutes anyway.)
    I gotta admit I haven’t seen any of Affleck’s directorial efforts yet, but he wouldn’t be the first actor who turns out to be a surprisingly good director. (DeVito and Clooney come to my mind.)

  7. AND THEN THERE WERE NUN
    NUN BUT THE BRAVE

  8. Ben Affleck should do a Sidney Lumet —- STOP ACTING!

    The guy seriously couldn’t act to save his life. He’s like Keanu Revees in acting ability, but without KR’s ability to pick projects that cleaned up at the box office (KR scored $100 million alone from particpation deals in the Matrix trilogy).

  9. Yep, loved it. Vern, you gotta see GONE BABY GONE, it’s not as slick as this movie, but it’s the same tense atmosphere with some solid laughs that actually enhance the darkness as opposed to stopping the movie cold. Great actors with excellent actors bringing them to life, great mystery, and a dark, cynical streak that elevates the whole enterprise from a solid, well-executed pulp story into the realm of greatness.

  10. I actually live in Boston (I’m a transplant who’s originally from Cleveland) and I can tell you the locations are spot on, especially the Dunkin Donuts (it’s our Starbucks). I recognized just about every outdoor location. Unlike some movies that just use a couple of establishing shots to say, “Hey, we know this famous building,” here they actually take advantage of all the brick buildings and streets.

  11. RBatty: I wholly agree re: Boston locations. That car chase through the colonial-era twisty, narrow streets of The North End was amazing.

  12. The goosebumps was a nice bit of acting. I totally expect Nic Cage to top it at some point. Maybe make every hair on his head stand up.

  13. I just have to say, I really really hated Gone Baby Gone.

  14. Why do you hate Gone Baby Gone? It better be more than a series of nitpicks if you truly hated it.

  15. I thought that Scott Adkins look like he could be an Affleck. It’s how I got my brother to watch the Undisputed sequels. (he loves both Afflecks (as I do) and for some reason Josh Hartnett)

  16. Some SPOILERS follow.

    I enjoyed THE TOWN quite a bit, but was a huge fan of GONE BABY GONE and felt that this one fell short. I agree with all the positive stuff Vern said about the film, but there were numerous other problems that detracted from the overall experience for me.

    One was that it was beset with structural problems. Characters seem to disappear for large chunks of time and reappear when the story needs them. Rebecca Hall seems to vanish for what felt like a good half hour during the last act of the film. But even more jarring was Blake Lively, who barely factors into the first 3/4ths of the film, and then suddenly has a series of heavy, dramatic scenes near the end, with major plot points involving her character. I didn’t really felt like the movie had laid the emotional groundwork with her character to give those scenes the proper impact.

    Worse, though, might be the weirdly bittersweet tone of the end of the film, which threw me. Vern is spot-on talking about Affleck coming off more as anti-hero than good guy, and yet the final scenes suggest that, I dunno, we’re supposed to want him to get away and feel sad about his relationship with Hall. His character is trying to make a stab at redemption and whatnot, but he does a lot of reckless, shitty things throughout the movie and isn’t exactly a nice guy. Yet I got the weird that Affleck admired or sympathized with the guy, or something, and it seemed like the ending was supposed to be touching, and that it was happy that he got away.

    Weirder still, we’re supposed to be happy that he gives all the stolen money to Hall. Unless I missed something, they didn’t steal that money from a gangster or anything (unless it was supposed to be Pete Postlewaite’s money?), they stole it from the Red Sox. If she was an honest person, shouldn’t she have given that money to the police? Is it supposed to be heartwarming that she uses money stolen from a legitimate business to put ice in a hockey rink?

    I dunno, maybe I’m overthinking the morality in a movie about bank robbers, but did anyone else feel this way?

  17. CC: now whenever I’m walking around town I’ll be thinking about what locations would make for a great shootout.

    Dan: (spoilers) I absolutely agree that the film did not earn the “happy” ending. I’ll give them credit for not having the love interest show up in Florida with Affleck. However, it still seemed like too simple of a solution (just move away) for an intractable problem. I would have preferred something a little more tragic. The ending of Gone Baby Gone (which was much more of a moral quandary) was much better. However, as a genre exercise, I really enjoyed The Town. It’s strange that some of the best big screen action can be found in a Summer drama/heist flick.

  18. RBatty: I’ve always wanted to see a shootout inside of a giant hardware store, like Home Depot or Menard’s or something. I often think of giant shootouts happening wherever I am, I think it’s important to know what you’d do a flip followed by two-fisted dove-enhanced pistol action over just in case something goes down.

  19. Timmy: I thought I was the only one who did that. The only way I ever made it through church as a kid was picturing black-clad goons rappelling through the stained glass skylights.

  20. CC: Well, I mentioned the action because it’s well done, I guess maybe I felt like it’s not some all time classic chase scene, this is how people should be doing it anyway so I’m not gonna give them a medal. But I agree, I appreciate the non-digitalness of the movie. The only stuff I noticed was I thought the shots of them at the game might’ve been green screened or enhanced, and the bulletholes on a certain character’s face at the end.

    Of course I got no problem with digital shit but it’s nice to see some organic movies like that.

    Brad: Well, he could act to save his life in this movie, hopefully that was covered in the review.

  21. Jon Hamm:

    I find it shocking you think we oughta be rooting for this character! He’s a cop who is unable to find a shred of tangible evidence against Doug’s crew, so he first fucks with Rebecca Hall, who is really only a victim in all this, and then goes on to connive and manipulate the weakest woman in the pack – the Blake Lively character – by making her jealous with the drop about the tiffany necklace and then threatening to take her child away from her! Wow, bravo on the police work there…playing on abused women’s emotions and hoping for a bite. In this professional regard, you just cant help but admire Doug’s crew more. They don’t fuck up as often and create less bodies.

    The one scene Hamm has that doesn’t involve him heading up a squad of armed cops or squawking at them in a conference room is where he pours himself a scotch and looks at pinups of files. Boring, and also an asshole. Did he work as a cog in the machine of the movie? Definitely! I just don’t think for a second that we were being encouraged to like/identify with him, and if we were, Affleck and co. failed miserably. I definitely didnt come out of this movie feeling differently about cops.

  22. I really like Affleck’s directing, but agree with Dan for the most part. The Town feels like Affleck made two truly good films and then jammed them together and its the transitions back and forth that, to me, showed the seams. There is a truly great Boston film here about childhood friends and the poverty in Charlestown. There is also a good cops and robbers movie, but juxtaposing these two leaves little moments in both that feel false and forced to me.

    For instance, the scene where Affleck suddenly bares his soul to Hall about his mother. If I am asked to buy this tough guy opening up that quickly, then I would have expected a little different reaction to the revelation dropped by Postlethwaite. Instead we get the payoff for what happened to his mother almost as an afterthought following the ballpark heist. Because of course, if he had just taken his revenge then, you would not have needed the ballpark heist. It’s little details like that that undermine the organic nature of much of the story.

    Also, I liked the action, but he missed out on little details like them all running around the ambulance at the end and no one thinks of a sniper until the disposable fourth guy stands up and both Affleck and Renner suddenly seem to then think of a sniper.

    I realize these are little nit-picky details, but the movie was about 90% there on being a truly “great” film, but it was those few missed details and those little forced moments that kept it from getting to the finish line. This is still better than ninety-nine percent of the films I have seen in theaters this year, but being better than the rest does not mean it doesn’t have to earn every minute of the film. I read an interview with Affleck where he said that Warner wanted a certain amount of gunfights and action and as long as he delivered that, he could do what he wanted with the characters. That, I think, just about sums up the two movie feeling this film left me with.

    I felt like Gone Baby Gone was much more organic and a much more honest film, but did not make a large amount of cash for the studio. With this financial and critical success, it will be interesting to see where Affleck goes from here as an actor and director, and I for one am looking forward to whatever he brings to the table next.

  23. Patrick – no, I don’t think we’re supposed to root for John Hamm while watching the movie. I’m saying in most movies that would be the good guy, and if you think about it he’s probly the better person. The things he does to the two women in Doug’s life are mild compared to things cops do in real life and in movies. You gotta admit Doug has no business putting himself in the life of this girl who doesn’t know he’s one of the ones who fucking kidnapped and threatened her. Now he’s leaving his ex, an addict, alone with this little girl who others but not him think is his daughter. He’s not exactly Robin Hood (although he does leave the money).

    But we still root for him and that’s a testament to the movie and Affleck’s charisma.

    By the way, can anybody explain to me the other packet of money besides what he buried? I thought it was his own apartment, putting some money behind some picture frames. Who was that left for?

  24. Is that supposed to be his daughter? I thought it was maybe his niece or maybe his girlfriend’s daughter and he has become a big part in her life but he isn’t necessarily bound by parenthood.

    I have a few nieces myself and have made myself a big part of their lives so if I were to just get up and leave that could be a problem for them. I’m not their dad, but I feel that I’m the next best thing. I’m thinking that might be the same situation that Affleck’s character is in.

    I’m gonna have to watch the movie again though because there was about ten minutes during the middle of it that I missed.

  25. Seeing it tomorrow night. I’ll post something then.

  26. hamslime,

    I think the implication was that he had been in a relationship with the Lively’s character and was something of a father figure to the daughter, although he did not believe he was the biological father. Renner’s character was especially sensitive about this because Lively is his sister, and also apparently because of his resentment for Affleck wanting to turn his back on the neighborhood.

  27. I quite liked it but i think if they had stuck with the anti-hero ending from the book it would have gone over the top into a great movie.

    Spoilers for the book and movie follow!

    In the Chuck Hogan book, Dougie gets shot in the throat in the shoot out at the Florist’s and then stumbles back to Claire’s place with his hand clamped to his neck to stop himself from bleeding out. He wants to know if she dimed them to the cops or not and if she loved him. Eventually, the Jon Hamm character shows up figuring that’s where doug was headed and its revealed that krista sold them out not Claire. Then satisfied that Claire did care fro him still in someway he lets go and bleeds out in her kitchen. The money in the garden was planted there earlier from other heists and it is left unknown as to what Claire will do when she eventually finds it.

  28. More SPOILERS

    I meant to add, I agree with Vern that the fact that Affleck seemed to take no responsibility for the child was a nice dark detail. But where Vern sees “Good, understated shit” in that and other implications about the character, I suspect that maybe the movie was trying to skip past them or gloss over them. Like, they had material for a darker movie but wanted to fashion it into a crowdpleaser (dudmc’s comments seem to support this). The bittersweet tone of the ending really caught me off guard, because I saw Affleck as a compelling but ultimately unsympathetic antihero.

    On the otherhand, in a recent thread here some of us discussed the cliched ending of the standard-issue antihero-in-search-of-redemption pulling one last job and getting killed at the figurative footsteps of salvation, so it was nice to see an ending where the dude lives and gets away. (I really thought, during the shootout with Postlewaite, that Affleck was going to get shot but they don’t show the audience for a few minutes and he bleeds to death in his car or something). I just felt that, you know, tonally speaking maybe we shouldn’t be so happy about the fact that a career criminal who endangered the lives of many gets off scott-free.

  29. It would take me a long time to discuss why I didn’t like Gone Baby Gone, but I’ll do my best to sum it up – I thought the photography was too murky, the pacing was bad (there were at least 3 different parts that seemed to be building to the climax), the story just didn’t really connect with me (though clearly that’s a very subjective statement), but the one thing that really drove it home, and I guess this is a nitpick, was the part at the end where Casey Affleck has some big scene with Morgan Freeman, then goes out in the woods and has a big scene with his girlfriend, and it seemed like the exact same scene twice in a row. It was like he gave the same monolgue, twice, filmed from the same angle, to a different person. Basically I thought the filmmaking seemed amateurish. I’m trying not to hold it against Affleck though, since it was his first movie. Most of the reviews say this one is better, so I’d be willing to give The Town a shot.

  30. That’s kinda what I was thinking was going on. I didn’t catch that she was Renner’s sister but it didn’t seem to me that she wasn’t his real daughter.

    It’s kinda low to leave his “daughter” but I guess in his situation he just had to do what he had to do. He wouldn’t be able to get custody of her because he’s not her dad, he can’t raise her in prison or if he’s dead. In fact you could probably make a whole other movie about that relationship on it’s own. It would be like mixing a crime movie with an episode of Maury Povich.

  31. ripvanruben,

    Ha, totally didn’t see your post before I wrote that. Sounds like the book’s ending is a lot like what I was just talking about. Certainly, it seems like the ending the movie is aiming for early on; maybe a bit of a cliche, but more tonally/morally consistent with the rest of the story.

  32. Levon – I don’t agree with your assessment (as you say, most of it is subjective) but those are fair enough reasons. I was afraid that it was going to be another one of those deals where someone tries to find reasons to hate a great movie just because everyone else likes it. (See Shawshank Redemption messageboards on IMDB for sad examples of what I’m talking about.)

    The only one I can kind of agree with is the photography, but for me the story and performances were so good I honestly never considered the photography until just now when you mentioned it.

  33. To get back on topic, you guys are right — Batman Begins would have been better with an R rating, but it was still pretty good.

    [I’ve got a date with Paul to see the new Affleck joint tonight. Wait, that came out wrong. . . the new *Ben* Affleck joint I should specify.]

  34. Mouth – I’d go with you guys but I’m going to watch The Dukes of September at Red Rocks tonight…That and I’m assuming we don’t live near each other, but if you’re in the Colorado area let me know and we can watch Yellowbeard and grill some burgers at my house.

  35. SPOILERS I thought the money he gave Claire was previous money from previous heists? It’s the cash that you see him digging out of the brick wall… I thought Renner had the Red Sox money in the dufflebag in the scene where he gets shot.

  36. SPOILERS I thought this movie was fucking solid but I agree that the ending fizzles a bit. It’s like they didn’t really know what to do with the remaining characters. This does go back to what we were talking about in the thread for that other cough cough movie, and I think it proves it: if you let the bad guy anti-hero live conclusively, it’s kind of unsatisfying and sends the audience out of the theater with the wrong moral lesson. “Ben Affleck gets away and moves to Florida. The End.” That’s not a very good punch to close out a very punchy movie in my opinion.

  37. Gwai Lo,

    SPOILERS

    You’re probably right about the money, but … that’s stolen money. Obviously major banks are a less sympathetic victim than the Red Sox, but I’m still not sure I’m on board with the quasi Robin Hood mentality of Hall using the money to rebuild the ice rink… and then presumably have boatloads left to spend as she pleases.

    I could see an ending where Affleck lives working, if it played more downbeat. Say, if Hall really did betray him to the Feds and he realizes that she never loved him, or something to that effect. But the bittersweet crowdpleaser they went for rubbed me wrong.

  38. SPOILERS – exactly, Dan. There needs to be SOME punishment. I thought the scene where he killed Pete Postelwaithe (in quite a grisly fashion, I might add!) was definitive proof that he was beyond the pale and had a big fall coming. I mean up until that point you could maybe argue that despite all his home invasion beatdowns and shirking of parental responsibility he really was a pretty good Robin Hood type of fella. But killing someone in cold blood seemed to clinch his fate in my opinion. Granted he did do it to prevent further recourse against his girl, who was threatened earlier in the movie, but shooting someone in the balls at point blank range is a bit extreme. However at the end, he essentially got away with the money (just because he gave it to someone else doesn’t mean he didn’t), kept his trust in his girl intact and retained her love, and got to live in the tropics (well, Florida). Plus you get the sense that once shit calms down he’s going back to get his girl and live even happily ever after. But that’s just me looking outside the text again so maybe nevermind that last bit. Yeah, his friends died, but there’s a distinct feeling of “oh well” in regards to that.

  39. SPOILERS – plus, what does Jon Hamm’s character do after this? It wasn’t just Affleck’s resolution that left me unsatisfied. This fucking FBI guy is gonna be so steamed!

  40. SPOILERS CONTINUE It’s not even so much that I feel like Affleck needs to be punished. I don’t have some puritanical sense of right and wrong and feel like the wicked must suffer in order for me to enjoy the movie. I just am not sure if I can get on board with being actively happy that he gets away, as it seems like the ending wants me to feel. Plus, it just doesn’t jibe with the tone of the movie up until that point, which seemed to suggest that it was a gritty, fatalist story about a guy who tries and fails to transcend his roots. Instead it offers more of a tidy, romantic fantasy that felt a little like a cop out.

  41. I was being a bit reductive for the sake of making a point, but yeah that’s essentially what I mean.

  42. The ending was reshot, for those who were bothered by it. Originally Affleck gets killed by the guys he beat up during act one. The girl still gets the money though.

  43. He was punished. He’s a robber, who finally found something of value, and it’s the one thing he can’t steal. I thought the ending played very well. But then, I’m of the opinion that a romance movie that ends with the characters apart is superior. It’s just much more romantic, but that could just be the Gabriel Garcia Marquez fan in me.

  44. Hunter D. – hey, it worked for BEFORE SUNRISE. But I think BEFORE SUNSET is just as good. And I like that original ending for THE TOWN you described better I think.

  45. Reshot ending: Uh…what?

    No, the ending as it’s in the movie, pretty much exactly the same, was in the shooting script. And is what was filmed, as far as I know.

    There were some post-production reshoots, but it was mostly the scene where Jon Hamm roughs up that guy and his girlfriend to get info on the bank robbery; and the scene where Affleck gives Rebecca Hall the necklace and says he was gonna change. That was first filmed beside a fountain in Boston; the reshoot set it in her apartment.

    There was an earlier draft, similar to the ending of the book, where Affleck is wounded by the florist and staggers back to Claire’s apartment and dies in her arms. But that was never shot….

  46. RE: CC

    A good friend of mine works at a posthouse and told me about the reshoots weeks and weeks before the movie came out. There were DEFINITELY reshoots. She saw them and she had no reason to lie to me. She has been making jokes about his “super awkward death face” for weeks now.

  47. Yeah, there were reshoots, and they may have filmed an ALTERNATE ending with Affleck being killed by those guys–look, I’m not the producer, I don’t know. But Affleck wasn’t “originally” killed by them, the original ending was the one that’s now in the film. The only signifigant difference between the end of the shooting script I read during production and the film is the shot of the Everglades and Affleck with his ZZ Top beard. In the script I think the last image of him is when he’s on the train.

  48. I would have seen this movie, except I was on vacation at Universal Studios Florida resort when it came out

    the new Harry Potter ride at Islands of Adventure is incredible in case anyone cares

  49. Weird. I called her up today and she reiterated about this other ending. They got both versions, but she says the death ending was the one that came attached to the film first.

  50. That is weird re: the endings. I can only reiterate that the ending that’s in there now was the ending when the film was shot in Boston last year.

    My guess is that the “Awkward Death Face” ending was actually the reshoot; and that Affleck (who seemed to be experimenting with the film in the editing room as much as Terrence Malick does), at that time had decided to end it that way, then changed his mind and went back to the original “Ben’s Beard” ending.

    I really hope that it’s on the DVD–I’m dying to see how, A: they fit it into the existing structure, and B: well, Ben’s death face.

  51. Just saw it. It wouldn’t have worked had Affleck been killed (in what would probably have turned out to be yet another example of gratuitous “movie justice”. As if I hadn’t had enough of that bullshit with “The Tournament”.) As it was, I thought it was great. Probably not the best movie I’ve seen all year – hell, probably not the best I’ve seen this month, after Scott Pilgrim anyhow – but still pretty damn good.

    Also I haven’t seen this convincing a performance from Affleck since “Changing Lanes”. Another film I thought was great.

  52. Also, it’s just occurred to me – I’ve seen three films at the cinema in the last couple of months, and recommended them all. Fuck me, I think I’m going soft in my old age. I’m normally the guy who rips the movies you guys all like to shreds. This isn’t supposed to happen!

  53. Guess what everyone, FUCK SCOTT PILGRIM!

  54. But I must say, I still like people that like Scott Pilgrim and don’t question the validity of their opinions.I just say fuck the movie and fuck the character he’s a bigger asshole than almost everybody outside of the baby fucker to deather in “A Serbian Film.”

  55. Reason’s why I hated Gone Baby Gone (possible spoilers):

    1. Huge Expectations. This movie was getting 4 1/2, 5 stars from everybody it seemed and there was probably no way it could’ve been as good as everyone said it was. Not the movie’s fault.

    2. Casey Affleck is horribly miscast. This guy is so unconvincing as a private eye. Dude can’t hold a gun convincingly and looks like he’s 17 years old. I know he’s supposed to be portraying a young PI in over his head (right?) but come on. James Garner or Humphrey Bogart would bitch slap this guy across the room. I’m starting to think that Casey Affleck is just a bad actor. He has the same tone of voice whether he’s whispering, yelling, or talking normal. Same expression too.

    3. The dialogue in this movie is so muffled that I had to put the subtitles on. I’ve never heard so much whispering and mumbling.

    4. The whole moral dilemma thing at the end. The Affleck character spends the whole movie doing some pretty shady things (like oh, killing someone in cold blood) and then has the balls to turn the daughter back over to her loser/deadbeat mother because, hey, thats the law. Gimme a break.

    5. Ed Harris. I really like Ed Harris but man, this was a bad performance. He completely overdid the “jaded detective who’s seen too much” character.

    Ok Rant Over.

  56. I gotta say, that picture of Scott Adkins looks amazingly like the asshole cop character on the Wire played by Benjamin Busch. Take a look —

    http://www.hbo.com/the-wire/index.html#/the-wire/cast-and-crew/anthony-colicchio/index.html

    for one crazy second I thought, wait a fuckin second, Scott Adkins was a minor character on the Wire!?!? No dice, though. Just the same haircut.

  57. Finally watched this and I liked it alot, as expected. Yeah, the love story was some Hollywood bullshit, but it didn’t detract too much.

    My favorite part was when Affleck comes to get Renner to go bust those dudes up.

    AFFLECK: I need your help. I can’t tell you why, you can never ask me about it afterward, and we’re gonna hurt some people.

    RENNER: Whose car we taking?

    It’s not as good as the “I’ll get my gear” scene from ROLLING THUNDER because Affleck actually had to ask Renner to come with him, it wasn’t just assumed. But still solid.

    Also, Vern, I remembered from the review that you said Affleck was going to fulfill a badass promise at the end, and I was sure it was going to be checking up on those two assholes who picked on his girl. He did tell them he’d come back in a week and kill them if they were still there. Too bad he didn’t follow up on it. It would have been cool if he just poked his head in before he skipped town and found the apartment empty, just some thumbtacks sticking in the walls and an old phonebook sitting in the middle of the floor.

  58. Affleck will fulfill that promise. He’ll see those punks again, on this side or the other.

  59. BEN AFFLECK SHOULD DIRECT “THE EXPENDABLES 2”.

    It’s only just occurred to me.

    When Affleck directs himself, he gives his best performance in years.

    When Stallone directs himself… well let’s say that if the Razzies were looking for any more ammunition for their denial of his acting ability, “Expendables” would give them enough ammunition for the next three or four “award shows”.

    So obvious!

  60. Paul, that’s just crazy enough to work. Have your people tweet Stallone’s people.

  61. The Town did not live up to all the hype behind it, and Ben Affleck is a very overrated actor.
    The Town was overrated, with a mediocre cast, bad acting, a tinny-sounding and bombastic soundtrack, and a stupid story behind it overall. Why the hell was Claire, an educated woman who made a decent salary as a bank manager and owned an expensive Condo in the gentrified part of Charlestown, so interested in a total loser like Doug MacRay, an armed felon on the lam from the law, who’s uneducated and unskilled, and the son of a gaolbird, to boot? It’s a pretty stupid romance, which takes up too much of the film.

    Although I never saw the alternate ending/extended version of The Town, I heard about it. Doug MacRay finally gets his comeuppance; he’s shot and killed by one of the Hispanic guys who he and Jem beat up and permanently injured after breaking into their housing project apartment for supposedly throwing bottles at Claire as she walked through a housing project on her way to work. Those who live by the sword die by the sword, and Doug MacRay and his buddies were no exception. Having seen the theatrical version, where Doug escapes to Florida, courtesy of Claire, I prefer the alternative ending, where Doug really gets his comeuppance for his criminal behavior.

    It doesn’t change the fact, however, that I think Claire got off too easy, in either case. She herself should’ve been criminally prosecuted, or at least put on probation for abetting an armed felon and wanted fugitive elude the law, and for receiving stolen goods.

    No sympathy for Claire, who was willfully stupid, or for Doug, who was a vicious and ruthless a character as his buddies in crime. Doug MacRay was just better at glossing it over than his buddies, that’s all.

  62. Yeah, the ending was weak. But the movie as a whole is decent.

  63. Great review. The town is my favorite movie.

  64. To each their own, Beacon Hill and Mr. Majestyk, but I have a totally different view of “The Town.”.

    Claire supposedly had no clue as to who Doug really was, but, imho, a smarter, more streetwise woman than Claire Keesey would’ve picked up on who Doug really and truly was and what he was up to from the get-go. The conversations that transpired between Doug and Claire on their first couple of dates, imho, were rather suspicious, especially when Doug schpiels off to Claire about all that he supposedly knows about how the FBI, bank robberies, and the criminal justice system overall work.

  65. Mr. Majestyk:

    I think the part where Doug and Jem break into Alex’s apartment, beat up and permanently cripple him and his companions for supposedly harassing and throwing bottles at Claire Keesey as she stupidly walked through a housing project by herself (no woman in her right mind would do that, imho!) was totally unnecessary, but, had the Alternate Ending to “The Town”, where Doug MacRay gets gunned down by one of the guys that he beat up and permanently crippled right when he’s about to make his escape for Florida been kept in the film, the part where Doug and Jem break into Alex’s apartment, beat them, injure them and order them out of Charlestown would’ve been more feasible.

  66. Finally saw this recently. Affleck is still the bomb director yo!

    I loved the intensity in the performances in this movie. Everybody came across as pure desperation personified and I loved every minute of it. From the crooks desperate for better lives, to the woman desperate enough for a good guy that she ends up seeing the good in anybody, to the fed desperate to catch the crooks. Just a great romp all around.

    Affleck should teach a “How to properly emulate Michael Mann” course at the university of Boston and Michael Bay should be a student.

  67. Again, to each their own, Broddie, but I stand by all I’ve said here about “The Town”. Doug MacRay, imho, is a professional career criminal and armed felon, who, along with his buddies/partners in crime, is known around town, as well as by the Feds, and the reason that no evidence can be obtained is because Doug and his men are very skillful at destroying evidence of their crimes by bleaching up their crime scenes, and/or setting fire to the getaway and the switch van(s) that’re used in the crimes.

    Doug MacRay just wanted to avoid going back to prison, he played with and exploited Claire for precisely that reason, which was absolutely vicious. Claire, unfortunately, allowed herself to be taken advantage of by Doug, and rose to the bait, and the fact that she accepted an expensive diamond necklace from him as a present, tipped Doug off to the presence of the Feds in her Charlestown condo right when they were on the verge of catching Doug, having him tried, charged with and sent to prison for his crimes, not to mention spending Doug’s blood-stained loot money on the restoration of the C-Town hockey rink, rather than arranging to turn it over to the proper authorities via the FBI and finding more honest ways to procure funding for the C-Town hockey rink puts Claire in a really, really bad light.

    The fact that Doug and his men knocked over her bank at gunpoint and terrorized her wasn’t her fault, but the choices that she made afterwards were beyond stupid, and I totally lost my sympathy for her after that.

  68. Frankly, after all is said and done, I was rooting for FBi Agt. Adam Frawley, the SWAT Team and the other law-enforcement people in “The Town, and really and truly wanted Doug MacRay and his men to be caught, tried and charged with their crimes and forced to serve long, hard time in a Federal penitentiary. I also think that Claire should’ve been criminally prosecuted herself, or at least given a suspended sentence and put on probation for being an accessory to Doug MacRay’s crimes and for receiving stolen goods (Doug’s blood-stained loot money, which Claire spent on the renovation of the C-Town hockey rink.).

  69. Frankly, I would’ve loved to see both Doug MacRay and Claire Keesey either end up like a modern-day Bonnie and Clyde and be hunted down and shot dead by the FBI, or for both Doug and Claire to end up in jail, or to get the crap beat out of them. THAT, imho, would’ve really served justice and made The Town a better film than it is.

  70. Frankly, Gwai Lo, there’s no way that Doug MacRay can go back to Charlestown to pick up Claire, because he’d invariably be caught (perhaps violently) by the Feds, who are looking for him and either gunned down by the law, or be tried for and (hopefully) charged with his crimes and sent to serve long, hard time in a Federal penitentiary, where Doug MacRay belongs.

    It’s funny (or not so funny, to be exact), how oh so many people miss the fact that Doug left Claire behind when he skipped town for Florida for the following reasons.

    A) Doug was being pursued by FBI Agt. Frawley (who I rooted for the whole time in “The Town”, btw.) and the Feds, in order to bring MacRay and his posse of thieving thugs down and have them put in prison once and for all, because Frawley and his men know the identities of Doug and his posse, but can’t get evidence, due to Doug and his men destroying evidence by bleaching up the crime scenes and/or setting fire to the get-away and the switch vans.

    B) The fact that Doug gunned down Fergie and Rusty in revenge, as the reviewer points out, seals Doug’s fate. He has no choice but to skip town, but I think that, deep down, he knows, at some level, that his days of hiding out in a little hut overlooking a Florida Bayou are numbered. Sooner or later, the law will find him (note how Frawley said to his men, after Claire tipped Doug off with a “sunny days” code right when they were about to nab him in Claire’s Charlestown condominium “We know what he (Doug MacRay) looks like. Get the description out. We’ll find him, wherever he is.”) Claire would’ve been in the line of fire and been at risk, also, if one gets the drift.

    C) Doug had gotten what he really and truly was counting on from Claire all along; Her not squealing to the Feds, which is why Doug followed her and put the romance moves on her in the first place. Inotherwords, he exploited and manipulated her for his own ends; to avoid another jail sentence.

    Claire, on the other hand, was naive, or willfully stupid enough to rise to Doug’s bait, which was pathetic.

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