September 17th, 2010
06:15 PM ET
Ben Affleck’s “The Town,” opening in theaters nationwide today, is the Boston-bred actor’s second time in the director’s chair, and he's assembled an intriguing cast to help him pull off the job.
The crime thriller is set in a Boston neighborhood notorious for its bank robbers, with Affleck taking the lead role as one of the best of the baddies, Doug MacRay. “Mad Men’s” Jon Hamm, perhaps trying to loosen the tie on his retro image, plays an FBI agent who would love to put an end to Doug's success, and “Vicky Cristina Barcelona’s” Rebecca Hall stars as the woman who makes Doug think twice about being resolved to a life of crime.
Jeremy Renner fills out the role of Doug’s hard-core but loyal best friend Jem, and Blake Lively also appears in a role that's removed from her “Gossip Girl” alter-ego as his rough-around-the-edges sister.
Although the plot sounds a touch clichéd, filled with tropes about the crime kingpin wanting to turn over a new leaf and falling for the very woman he's supposed to maintain zero emotions for, but perhaps if a plot device isn’t broken, there’s no need to fix it.
Washington Post critic Ann Hornaday thought the movie was solid, saying that “ 'The Town’ has a lot going for it: terrific cast, good writing, [and] some nifty psychological reversals,” with the best news being “that Affleck makes it all move.”
The Toronto Sun agrees that this is one movie that “puts the thrill in thriller,” keeping the pace going at a nice clip with “edge-of-your seat robbery and get-away sequences.” The critic adds, “The story is a study of loyalty and betrayal, and it's violent; your emotional investment has been so carefully cultivated that every character's fate becomes important.”
It’s an impressive result that many critics lay down at the feet of Affleck, holding up “The Town” as proof that he’s a skillful, self-assured director.
“For the most part, Affleck the director succeeds in holding a lot of threads together, and manages to keep us in our seats for the full 130-min running time — no small feat,” critiques Time’s Mary Pols. “It's perverse to say this about something so bloody, but it goes down like cinematic comfort food.”
Did you find Affleck's "Town" just as satisfying? Let us know with an iReport review, and we’ll round up your thoughts on Monday.
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