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The Town [Blu-ray]  [Region Free]
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Crime drama, directed by Ben Affleck and based on the award-winning novel, 'Prince of Thieves', by Chuck Hogan. Affleck also stars as Doug MacRay, one of four masked criminals who rob a bank. Doug falls for one of the bank workers, Claire (Rebecca Hall), who is distressed after the robbery. Claire, unaware Doug was one of the robbers, reciprocates his feelings. Can Doug keep up the facade or will the law catch up with him?
Ben Affleck follows his acclaimed Gone Baby Gone directorial debut by directing, co-writing and starring in a taut thriller about robbers and cops, friendship and betrayal, love and hope and escaping a past that has no future. He plays Doug MacRay, leader of a Boston bank robber gang but not cut from the same cloth as his fellow thieves. When Doug falls into a passionate romance with the bank manager (Rebecca Hall) briefly taken hostage in their last heist, he wants out of this life and out of the town. As the Feds close in and the crew questions his loyalty, he has one of two choices: betray his friends or lose the woman he loves. Jon Hamm, Jeremy Renner, Blake Lively, Titus Welliver, Pete Postlethwaite and Chris Cooper also star.
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Apparently more bank robbers come from Charlestown than anywhere else. In fact its like a trade handed down from father to son, or even a past time - and this is the kernel of real world truth from which this great film has grown.
Indeed the film opens with a high octane bank heist based on a real robbery that took place in the area. One the cast members (many of whom hail from the area) say they remembered well.
In fact a bank worker, there on the day, was brought in to help supervise the shoot for authenticity, and he said the events were so exact it was like reliving the whole ordeal over again.
The attention to detail in this film made it real for him and its what helps make it real for viewers at home too. Even the masks in the opening scene were copies of ones used by a team of robbers, found in the files of the FBI.
The characters too felt real, and the dialogue and friendship amongst them seemed natural and believable. Ben Affleck's acting shined here in fact - with an accent that really brought his character to life.
In fact, I wonder if he's originally from the area as it seemed so effortless for him - but the delivery of his lines reminded me of a cross between Christopher Walken and Al Pacino. This film has made me look at Affleck in a new light.
Written by, directed and starring Ben Affleck he has pulled of quite an achievement. I watched the extended cut and it felt like a marathon of events, and although the story wasn't exactly ground breaking, that was part of its strength.
It felt real. Like it happened all the time and what we were watching was `the same S**t just a different day'. That said though this team of robbers were pros and took their craft very seriously.
Dare I say it was a joy to watch their military precision and attention to detail. There were some great set pieces throughout the film which were the best I've seen in a long time. And the script and dialogue were a joy throughout.
There were some truly great scenes and lines, as well as great performances - which included some by the late, great Pete Postlethwait - and all in all I can't recommend this film enough.
The Blu Ray Transfer is excellent and the format is highly recommended to make the most of the fire fights, costumes and action sequences. And there are a reasonable amount of interesting extras on the disc too.
These talk, of course, about the making of the film - but also about the area itself and characters involved behind the scenes. The real people of Charlestown; who there as consultants, advising the film makers throughout the shoot.
If I had to criticise it at all, I would say only this - the sound recording was a little lack lustre. But only the dialogue. Car chases, gunshot and explosion all rang out crystal clear. It was only the speech I found a little muffled in places - though this could have just been the Charlestown accent.
To sum up: Heat - eat your heart out. There's a new heist-meister in town and this is it. And if you are a fan of Heat - or indeed Point Break, Killing Zoe, or any other film based around a gang of bank robbers - this is the film for you. It has it all and yet still delivers more. 10/10 from me for all involved. Ben Affleck - I salute you: 'The Town' robs 'Heat' of its title of 'Best bank heist film around'
Doug's reluctance to continue in the life is tied to a backstory that is very well integrated into the main action -- nice work by Affleck there too, as co-writer as well as director. Doug's visit to his father in jail is one of the most effective scenes, and we realize that Doug is seeking an escape from a traumatic past that an older generation -- Fergie and his dad -- makes both psychologically and logistically difficult for him. Chris Cooper is a great actor, and we don't see a lot of him here -- one "cameo scene -- but, like Fergie, he's chilling. Also very effective is Jeremy Renner as the crazily violent Jem. Affleck and Hamm are obviously comfortable on screen, but both are rather inexpressive facially and vocally. Still, given that Affleck is playing a guarded and rather depressed character, these limitations are not damaging. The young women -- Hall and Lively -- do good work. There's a nice sentimental undertow to the whole project that makes the ending satisfying without being cloying, and that has been set up by the gradual revelations about Doug's past -- including much that Doug himself didn't know. Good stuff -- a very solid piece of work.
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