In The Town, star/co-writer/director Ben Affleck plays a down-on-his-luck bank robber in Boston's rough Charlestown neighborhood who's desperate to keep his crew together, particularly his unstable friend Jem (The Hurt Locker's Jeremy Renner). But when he falls in love with one of his victims (Rebecca Hall) — and has to dodge an FBI agent (Jon Hamm) — things get complicated. What do critics think of Affleck's new directorial effort (based on Chuck Hogan's novel Prince of Thieves)? (Watch the trailer for The Town)
It's better than solid: The resurrection of Ben Affleck's career continues apace, says Chris Vognar in The Dallas Morning News. The Town is a "vivid genre piece" in which "the sense of place leaps off the screen." The performances are "fully lived-in" and the action scenes have "speed and heft."
It's a simple pleasure: The Town is a "well-made crime procedural," says Roger Ebert in the Chicago Sun-Times. Affleck was clearly going for something more, however, and perhaps "the mechanics of movie crime got in the way of [his] higher ambitions." While Jem is an "intriguing character," the film's paint-by-numbers approach to crime scenes lessens its emotional appeal.
Affleck should have stayed behind the camera: The movie has some problems: It's "aggressively regional," for instance, "with establishing shots of the Bunker Hill monument every 15 minutes." But its fatal flaw, says Dana Stevens at Slate, is Affleck's casting of himself as "a criminal mastermind, a bank-robbing prodigy with a crack team of thugs at his command." He's "congenial," but "let's not kid ourselves about his acting."
"Boston. Boston. Boston. Ben Affleck"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- How our botched understanding of 'science' ruins everything
- The science of sex: 4 harsh truths about dating and mating
- 6 things the happiest families all have in common
- How to be the star of a cocktail party where you don't know anyone
- 13 Urban Outfitters controversies
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- California's epic drought
- 11 scientific studies that will restore your faith in humanity
Subscribe to the Week