Some highs and a bunch of lows mark Ben Affleck’s second directorial effort, The Town.
The highs – Ben Affleck’s performance. Blake Lively’s chest. Jeremy Renner’s performance. The setting.
The lows – non-sensical plot. Jon Hamm’s performance. Blake Lively’s acting ability. The last 30 minutes.
What starts off as a strong thriller with a really authentic Boston feel quickly devolves into a very neat and tidy, completely predictable package. I will say that the movie is worth the performances by Affleck, Renner and Rebecca Hall alone. However, I hear a lot about Hall’s performance here – but it is Affleck who really shines. He makes due with very little, as does Renner. His character has a bit too much shit heaped on him. Father a career criminal. No mother. Star hockey player drafted by the NHL, blown opportunity. Drug abuse. It would have been fine if he were a local star who could have gone to college to play… but they make it seem like he was the next Gretzky. In reality, I realize the hockey draft is akin to the MLB draft where players rarely make the roster, but I doubt most viewers do as well.
Let me state here that I think Jon Hamm does a great job on Mad Men. However, I’m quickly realizing that he is pretty much only suited to play that role. He is a TV actor, not a film star. And every role he has been in on the big screen has been less than impressive. And this is no exception. In fact, it is glaring – against Affleck, Renner and Hall. His scenes almost became laughable. In fact, by the end, I was laughing – as were a few people in my theater. He doesn’t even do anything – he just shouts orders and other people do things. It’s really lazy screenwriting and he inhabits his character with all the authority of an elementary school principal.
Affleck does a great job placing the camera, and he really draws us into Charlestown – the tiny Irish ‘ghetto’ of Boston. He could have really used a screenwriter to revamp this script though. I don’t want to give anything away – but the last 30/40 minutes will have you groaning audibly. There’s no cat and mouse between Affleck’s crew and the feds – because of another lazy bit of writing that ties one of his members to the crime. Then the fed’s are tipped off to the ‘last score’ by an even bigger headscratcher – because its just so stupid. All compounded by Fergus the Florist – the elderly crime boss of Charlestown – who commands Affleck to pull this job or else.
I would really like to spend more time with these characters… just not in this movie.