Bad guy with a good heart

So, want to go shoot some bad guys?

THE TOWN:  15

RUNNING TIME: 2 hours

DIRECTOR: Ben Affleck

STARRING: Ben Affleck, Rebecca Hall, Jon Hamm, Jeremy Renner

BEN Affleck takes on the dual role of directing himself in the lead of twisted crime-romance, The Town, playing a blue-collar bank robber from the bad side of Boston.

As an Affleck-sceptic, the gritty realism of the film is surprisingly authentic as the actor-turned-director delivers the role of Doug, a failed pro-Hockey player dragged back to his roots in Charlestown, the crime capital of New England.

As the brains behind the bank robberies, Doug co-ordinates the robbery where he fatefully forces branch manager, Clare (Rebecca Hall), to hand over the cash. Unfortunately for him, it transpires that she lives mere blocks from him, making her a witness timebomb.

In order to find out whether she is co-operating with the FBI, Doug tastelessly takes it upon himself to befriend her, but, as with all good cliches, finds himself falling in love with the one woman who could potentially send him to jail.

While Clare remains blissfully unaware of the identity of her new boyfriend, the dangerous nature of their relationship rocks the boat between Doug and his brother in all but name, Jem, who spent nine years behind bars for a crime they both committed.

One particularly toe-curling scene threatens to tip the carefully balanced world Doug has created when Jem discovers the doomed pair on a cutesy cafe date and brazenly joins them, hammering home the uncomfortably obvious class divide.

It would seem Doug’s juggling act is precarious enough without throwing Jon Hamm’s marvellously determined FBI agent into the mix, playing a man intent on seeing Doug rot in a cell with his jail-bird father.

Yet Affleck plays the anti-hero so convincingly that it’s difficult not to want him to outsmart the law.

Despite his track record, it’s clear that his lifestyle is about survival rather than choice, making his precarious relationship with Clare all the more bittersweet.

As violence rages against an industrial backdrop, the hopelessness of Charlestown is only intensified by Clare’s humble community garden, the scene of their budding romance.

With action scenes acting as bookends to the film, The Town ticks all the boxes for blood, sweat, tears and car chases, reaching the only satisfying conclusion possible, no matter how guilty it seems.

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