One of those films directed by an actor that may lead to a more prosperous career as a director. This director is Ben Affleck, and The Town may prove to be one of his first great efforts. His previous Gone Baby Gone was a decent film, but seemed to have suffered from unlikely and unnecessary plot twists. This film knows exactly what it is trying to say. Like early gangster films, The Town is a portrait of a complex criminal, played by Affleck. This man is not necessarily an evil man—he is simply a product of the crime-ridden town he was raised in. And in the same vein of films like Angels with Dirty Faces and I am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang, this young man wants to break free of his criminal chains and live a normal life.
Keeping him from getting there is his best friend (played by the impressively unpredictable Jeremy Renner, best known from The Hurt Locker), a loose cannon-type that thrives on his impulses rather than cohort Affleck’s patience and planning. One of the intriguing elements to this film is that Affleck and Renner’s crew are simply career criminals who have a sense of honor, principle, and even morals. However, the real bad man in all of this appears to be the FBI agent pursuing them, played by a snobby Jon Hamm. In order to get these men, Hamm manipulates, intimidates, and vindicates everything he has against his suspects. He is not necessarily evil either, but his means to an end are far worse than the actual criminals.
Affleck finds his solace over time with the beautiful Rebecca Hall—the bank manager he happened to hold up on a heist. His interest in her grows from simply observing her post-heist to becoming romantically involved is a fascinating thing to watch; almost like psychiatrists interested in their patients. In many cases, that is the point of the whole film: the various psychological backgrounds of people in this particular town. They all deal with their demons in different ways, but they all have one common goal: to win, no matter the circumstances.