The Town

Rating: ★★★★½

A single square mile in Boston called Charlestown contains more bank robbers than any other municipality in America. And it is here where the setting of one of the best films of 2010 takes place. “The Town” is a powerful force that explores thoughts deeper than that of most films about organized thieves.

We are introduced to four criminals who are about to empty out an innocent bank. Two of them, Doug and James, are given much attention throughout the movie. The other two are, uh, well I believe there hasn’t been a successful heist before in movie history that featured less than four guys. So there you go.

Because this is just the opening scene, the cops arrive right after the crooks get away, and in movie rules, they’re just in time. But the movie is not about the cops, but the criminals. And the characters of Doug and James, superbly acted by Ben Afleck and Jeremy Renner, provide us with great material to study.

You see, in the city of Charlestown, the lifestyle of crime is passed down to the children by the families that dwell in it. In these families, if you refuse to rob a bank, then you’re a rebel. Doug is a member of such a family. He steals because his parents stole. This is the culture he grew up in, and because he is isolated in a town that shares that culture, never was he exposed to other forms of life. And then he meets Claire, a woman that could point Doug and his friends to the cops.

Her kindness and openness is something Doug has never encountered before, and he desires to stay with her. Doug wants to leave Charlestown, thus leaving the life he grew up with. But James is the opposite, who believes that Charlestown is the only place to live for people like “them.”

Excellent acting, writing, and directing accompany “The Town.” Much connection is developed between criminals and audience. In later robberies, we learn more about these crooks, and this time, we care for them. Even scenes of shoot outs and car chases are used for a higher purpose, and that is to test our empathy with the people involved. This is a superb crime thriller. Actor, writer, and director Ben Afleck knows what he’s doing, and Hollywood should let him do more.

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The Town