Ben Affleck stars in and directs “The Town,” a crime drama-heist flick about a masked gang’s thieving activities and the resultant romance between one of them and their unwitting former hostage.
Affleck competently plays complex thug Doug MacRay, who genuinely falls for bank manager Claire Keesey (Rebecca Hall), the last person he needs to have a relationship with. His old friend and gangmate James Coughlin (Jeremy Renner) disapproves of it for obvious reasons, while a tenacious FBI agent (John Hamm) sees Claire as a key component to the capture of the daring daytime robbers terrorizing Charlestown, Boston.
While not entirely gripping, “The Town” is sturdily crafted, which comes as no surprise since Affleck previously proved himself a capable and talented director with “Gone Baby Gone.” He knows how to handle pacing; quiet character-shaping scenes are just as affecting as cacophonous ones. As simultaneous actor and director, he successfully contributes to the sulky mood, and tells the story without being overly flashy. He includes vanity shots that show off his sculpted body, but they’re brief.
As for the precarious romance angle, it’s nothing we haven’t seen before. It’s only a matter of time before the deception is discovered and the situation deteriorates. This variation is still skilfully and stably told, even when story elements and narrative routes become quite familiar.
"The Town" opens Oct. 6 in Metro Manila.