Sunday, 26 September 2010

REVIEW: The Town

If you don't tell me where the money is I will have sex with your wife.

I think the best way to describe The Town, and this is going to sound much more insulting then it should, is that its the best a run of the mill film can be. There's a lot of familiar material here, and I wouldn't say that the film has perhaps the freshest take on it, but its a confident well-acted and engaging piece that gives a lot of talented people the chance to do what they do. It's not Heat, and Ben Affleck is certainly no Michael Mann, but its nice to see a good, intelligent movie made for grow-ups you know. It's an increasingly rare thing.

I think the thing holding it back is Affleck the actor. Whilst Affleck the director looks increasingly to be a talent worth paying attention to, the same old problems remain with with the idea of him as a leading man. He's not the most engaging screen presence, and when he surrounds himself with actors of the caliber of those in this movie, Jeremy Renner, Rebecca Hall, Chris Cooper, Jon Hamm and many more, he has to try a little too hard to keep up and that certain something that makes leading men great is just ever so slightly out of his reach. He's not a bad actor, but whenever he tries for the noble but complicated leading man bit something just doesn't click. He should have given himself more scenes with Blake Lively so he came across better. That is what I would have done. OK that was a cheap joke at Ms Lively's expense and that is something we just don't condone here at whatever my website is called. Just bad form. Actually the girl most commonly known as Serena Van Der Woodsen is kind of OK, and is only the worst performance in this movie because everyone else is so good.

Top plaudits are probably shared between Jeremy Renner and Rebecca Hall, Renner for bringing something more to his Psycho who takes it too far character, giving him some depth and more importantly being proper badass, and Hall who gives an excellent, quiet, in intelligent performance as Affleck's love interest. Its a disposable role on paper but Hall makes it stick and then some. I'd submit her as one of the most under-appreciated actresses around, and a real talent that people should be paying greater attention to. Pete Postelthwaite gives good cameo as an Irish kingpin/florist and Jon Hamm plays his FBI douche with as much relish and aplomb as you would expect. The writing isn't the strongest, with more then a few clunking one liners and awkward dialogue, but the action packs a punch, even if the spectre of the street set gunfight in Heat is constantly evoked, putting these scenes in their place.

But all in all, even if it can never escape the shadows of better movies to which it aspires, its confident, competent movie-making and if it is generic, its the kind of generic I'd be fine with seeing a bit more often. But I can't help but think that if it had been Casey Affleck instead of brother Ben I'd be reviewing an 8/10 movie right now, a la Gone Baby Gone. Oh well.

Rating: 7/10

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