I remember seeing the trailer for The Town when it was coming to theaters. A bunch of masked Boston-Irish bank robbers hold up a bank and take the bank manager hostage. They kidnap her on the getaway and release her, successfully pulling off their heist in the process. But later, one of the robbers, checking up on the woman, finds himself drawn to her. A few dates later, the woman finds that she is (unknowingly) falling in love with one of the men who violently robbed her bank at gunpoint. The question is, what will happen when she finds out?
See? That was all in the trailer! But you know what? The Town is really really good! Count me surprised! Credit the steady directing of Ben Affleck, who also stars in the film as Doug, the career bank robber from a one-square-mile neighborhood in Boston (Charlestown) that literally breeds more bank robbers than anywhere else. The woman, Claire, is played by the always fine and completely relatable Rebecca Hall, who manages to come off as trusting, yet realistic. How the heck would she know that this good looking, smooth talking working class guy (who is surprisingly cavalier) happens to be the man who put her through a traumatizing event? It seems incredible, but the storytelling and acting are so good that you fall for the implausible story.
But The Town also works as a thrilling action and heist film. Though Doug wants out of the business, he is surrounded by locals that are intent on keeping him in. The late Pete Postlethwaite plays Fergie, a flower shop owner, whom you slowly realize runs "The Town" with the ruthlessness of a Godfather. Chris Cooper plays Doug's dad, serving life in prison. You's think he is mild mannered because of his Coke-bottle glasses, gray hair, and small build, but he manages to prove that he is a sinister terror with a couple minor scenes. And finally, Jeremy Renner plays Jem, Doug's best and oldest friend, and also his worst influence. Through Jem's hairtrigger violence, Doug sees the end of his own road, but doesn't know how he can escape from that dead-end path.
Ultimately, The Town is a completely thrilling heist film as well as a solidly satisfying drama. I'm not sure why this film got lost in the shuffle of the year's releases, but it should have gotten much more recognition than it did. Hopefully it will find a wider audience on video and streaming!
Before I saw it, The Town seemed like an odd choice for such an elaborate Ultimate Collector's Edition, but when I watched the film and really liked it, I admit I was curious what such a set would include. The box set includes two Blu-Ray discs (one with the Theatrical Version and Extended Cut, and one with the Extended Cut and Alternate Ending... and no I won't spoil it and tell you what is different). As you watch the Extended Cut (which is also included on a DVD), a symbol appears on the screen whenever there is an added scene that is different from the Theatrical Cut. Where this box release goes all out is with the additional treats. There is a rather typical small hardcover photo book with behind the scenes pics and cast profiles. But most fun is a "confidential" envelope that looks like an inter-office manila folder. In this you'll find things like a note from Ben Affleck about the film's cuts, Boston Police Department mug shots of the characters, a fold-out map of Boston and Charlestown, showing locations of robberies and other landmarks of the film, a stapled copy of the FBI file on the case, the Vericom personnel records of the character of Desmond... and finally (deep breath) some temporary tattoos of Jem's fighting (bankrobber) Irishman. These treats feel like you are handling props from the film. Cool. Really really cool.