While watching this film, it occurred to my roommate and I that Ben Affleck is both overrated and underrated. Overrated as an actor, perhaps, but underrated in his abilities. The guy has so many fascinating facets to them, and The Town is a testament to that.
At times this movie reminded me of a non-superhero version of The Dark Knight, with its scary-masked bank heists and its two-faced anti-hero and its sweeping, deep-stringed musical score. But The Town was also a twisted love letter to a city with which Affleck is clearly in a long-term relationship. He is at his best when he’s talking about what he knows, and that is Boston. Even if he’s never robbed a bank per se, he knows how to tell a story within the confines of the Green Monster.
The Town exceeded my already high expectations. The cast was mesmerizing—between their beauty and their talent, it was hard to divert your eyes from the screen. Rebecca Hall was relatable and down-to-earth as Claire Keesey, the girl who accidentally fell for the guy who kidnapped her. Ben Affleck was that guy, Doug MacRay, and he did a terrific job of being emotionally distant from basically everything in his life; he seemed to have this deep but resentful attachment to his past and his future, which is interesting because normally Affleck’s characters are overly sincere and smiley. Maybe he isn’t such a bad actor after all!Jon Hamm kicked some unexpected ass as FBI agent Adam Frawley, and sported unconventional plaid shirts and smack talk as he attempted to take these robbers down. Jeremy Renner, a.k.a. Ben McKenzie, a.k.a. Tom Hardy (seriously, when will these three play triplets already?!) was obviously intense and wonderful as Jimmy Coughlin, and he deserved every bit of that Oscar nomination he got. Blake Lively was probably the weakest part of the whole cast, but she’s so dang pretty that it didn’t really matter.
No matter the subject matter, Ben Affleck always paints a flattering picture of the city of Boston in his movies. He added his touch as a director and writer this time around, and it’s plain to see how he is developing and maturing beyond the role of actor. The sweeping shots of the city were incredible, and they took nothing away from the city—that was the job of the corrupt characters, and the city was there to back them up and enable their good deeds and transgressions alike. I think this film deserves more nominations than it got last year, but like its other epically-scored compatriot, Inception, it got majorly snubbed at the Oscars. I do think Ben Affleck will get his time to shine as a director, but I certainly hope it happens sooner rather than later. He’s one of the most multitalented people in Hollywood.