I’m trying to understand the social backlash that has plagued Ben Affleck a lot until recently.  He isn’t a terrible actor – quite good at times, especially in this movie – but I supposed he suffered through making some poor decisions, like Gigli and Surviving Christmas, to name a couple movies.  Maybe a couple years away from the limelight helped, since a lot of what he’s done recently (which I’ve only seen a couple) was well received, if not for him, than for the ensemble casts that he was in.

Actually, he was great in Extract in a smaller role in a movie that really didn’t do a whole lot for me.

Coming back to the Town, which is the second film he’s directed (the first being Gone Baby Gone, which was great), and he’s found himself a niche in directing.  He does a commendable job here, creating a tense, often chaotic environment interlaced with the quieter sequences involving Doug (his character) and Claire (Rebecca Hall), a bank manager that he takes as hostage and eventually develops feelings for.  The editing could have used some work, especially in the latter sequences just mentioned, but all in all, it wasn’t bad.  The action sequences, which include several gunfights and a car chase though narrow Charlestown streets, are easily the best filmed sequences in the film.  Especially the car chase: the narrow streets and the multi-storied residential buildings that the bank robbers and police cars fly through create a kind of claustrophobic feel that threatens everyone at every turn, not knowing who or what will jump out or fly out at them at every turn.  It’s great stuff.

The story itself is involving, and relies on some solid acting from everyone, including Affleck, Hall, and Jeremy Renner, who plays the often-times psychotic one in the group of robbers.  Doug wants out of the bank robbery business, often saying that he’ll do just one more hit before calling it quits.  He finds his way out of Charlestown with Claire.  It’s actually this relationship that provides some pretty good material for the film: she’s heavily affected by being taken hostage after the opening bank robbery, and initially, Doug – who has her license courtesy of Jem (Renner) – is out to keep tabs on her, seeing if she knows anything about who the robbers were (and she knows, but I won’t say).  Doug walks a fine line throughout, between his relationship with Claire, his familial relationship with Jem and the other robbers, the florist Fergie (Pete Postlethwaite, who comes away with the best line in the movie), and the FBI, relentlessly in pursuit of Doug and the others.

The last third of the film wraps as nicely as possible, though it stretches credibility a little bit, especially in the epilogue.  The film the work though, since everything that occurs has some sort of establishment during the film.

In short, another great effort from Affleck, who is making a nice career resurgence that started with Hollywoodland and continues here.

B+

Note: I still need to see Hollywoodland as well.  Just adding that in there.

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