The Town
Directed by Ben Affleck
Starring Affleck, Rebecca Hall, Jeremy Renner, Jon Hamm, Blake Lively, Chris Cooper
Rated R

It’s probably safe to say now that “Gone Baby Gone,” Ben Affleck’s impressive directorial debut, was not just beginner’s luck. “The Town,” his follow-up directing project, proves that Affleck knows what he’s doing behind a camera.

Set in Charlestown, a Boston neighborhood where the number of bank and armored car robberies per square mile is supposedly the highest in the world, “The Town” stars Affleck as Doug MacRay, the head of a small gang that robs banks and armored cars.

While Doug is the brains of the operation, his trigger-happy buddy Jem (Jeremy Renner) is the brawn. During one of their bank heists, James impulsively takes a hostage (Rebecca Hall). They promptly release her unharmed, but for good measure they trail her to ensure she’s not ratting them out (Jon Hamm stars as the FBI agent on their case).

Doug, a wannabe gentle soul who’s tired of thug life, falls for her and charms her into a relationship — since he was masked during the robbery, she has no clue she’s dating the man responsible for her trauma.

The lead characters are a bit pat and the story is prosaic, but “The Town” is powered by the enormous talent of its supporting cast.

This is the kind of script that less driven actors could have phoned in to mediocre effect, but you can tell this cast really cared.

Renner, in particular, steals the screen whenever he’s on it. His freaky performance is, excuse the hyperbole, flawless. Pete Postlethwaite, Chris Cooper and Blake Lively are all equally compelling.

With its action-packed heist scenes there are few dull moments in “The Town.” This is autumn’s first solid crowd-pleasing hit.



“The Town” is based on the crime novel “Prince of Thieves,” by Chuck Hogan.

To research the film, director Ben Affleck spoke to former bank robbers and FBI agents. He also cast ex-cops and ex-cons from Boston.

The film was shot almost entirely on location around Boston, including at Fenway Park.

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