On-Camera Review: The Town

by Eric Melin on September 17, 2010

in Video Reviews

Here’s my video review of Ben Affleck‘s “The Town” from KTKA-49.

Like his directorial debut “Gone Baby Gone” from three years ago, Ben Affleck’s newest movie “The Town” is a crime drama set in his hometown of Boston. More specifically, the Charlestown neighborhood—which has more bank robberies per capita than any other place in the country.

With only two movies under his belt, Affleck has proven he can direct actors. “Gone Baby Gone” earned a supporting actress Oscar nomination for Amy Ryan, and both Jeremy Renner and Rebecca Hall turn in strong performances in “The Town,” but Affleck’s character still lacks a certain emotional depth.

That’s partly because Affleck is a little wooden, but it’s also because most of what happens outside of the actual bank robberies themselves is pretty predictable.

Tell me if you’ve heard this one before: Affleck plays a sympathetic criminal who wants out of the game after ‘one last heist.’ He falls in love with someone involved in the robbery and wants to escape the life, but is trapped by his guilt and loyalty to his friend. Meanwhile, a dogged FBI agent tracks down his prey and ushers clever one-liners.

Even if you can see where this movie is going a mile away, though, “The Town” does look fantastic and the robbery and chase scenes are well done. It just feels so familiar—like a song you’ve heard a million times on the radio. When it’s on again, you sing along, but the moment it ends, you’ve forgotten it again.

Eric is the Editor-in-Chief of Scene-Stealers.com and writes the Screen Stealers column for The Pitch. He’s President of the KCFCC, and drummer for The Dead Girls and Ultimate Fakebook. He is also Air Guitar World Champion Mean Melin. Eric goes to 11. Follow him at:

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{ 28 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Jesse Dylan Flynn September 24, 2010 at 8:48 am

Honestly guy, it is the 21st century, good movies are few and far between. You have to call it as you see it. No longer is it cool to be uncool, just enjoy the flick. Sorry we don’t all have the cinematic prowess of his majesty. If everyone else in the world likes the movie but you, maybe you shouldn’t waste your time and review movies anymore. This was the first bad review I have heard of since the movie debuted.Sianara sucka.


2 Eric Melin September 24, 2010 at 9:03 am

How about “sayonara”?

Anyway, I’m not trying to be cool or uncool, I just call it like I see it. When I saw how other critics reviewed this movie, I was really surprised, because–as you say–good movies are few and far between and this isn’t one of them.

Critical consensus is a dangerous thing, Jesse. I welcome all opinions and invite actual discussion of the film itself. Since the crux of your contribution here seems to be “you’re an idiot because everyone else liked it but you,” I guess for now, you’ll have to bow to my “cinematic prowess.”

Have you even seen the movie?


3 Evan September 24, 2010 at 11:48 am

Honestly, this is the first review of the movie I agree with. There was nothing spectacularly bad about it but there wasn’t anything really good about it either. Good actors wasted on a generic storyline. The Oscar talk just goes to show how worthless those little gold statues have become.


4 Eric Melin September 24, 2010 at 12:48 pm

“Good actors wasted on a generic storyline” pretty much sums it up for me too. Is there really Oscar talk? Yikes.


5 Alan Rapp September 24, 2010 at 12:55 pm

Sorry Jesse, but he’s not the only one who had issues with the film.

Although I liked it slightly more than Eric, the film is definitely flawed. The Town plays like a B-movie version of Michael Mann’s Heat without (forgive the pun) any real heat.


6 Jana September 25, 2010 at 8:22 am

I did not like this movie at all. I agree it was very predictable, and it lacked real substance. I understood where they wanted to go “emotionally” with the film, but they didn’t quite get it. I didn’t care about any of the characters, so didn’t care who caught whom. I’m from the same part of Boston as Affleck, and the accents where bad, even Ben’s who I guess help directed the others on it. I could have lived with that, as that was a minor annoyance, the larger one was the underdone character development, and overdone “action”.


7 Christian September 25, 2010 at 6:27 pm

Thanks for a good review. This was by no means a bad movie, but I agree Affleck was kind of weak and and the movie was extremely cliche. Although his directing was great and he can certainly work with actors and make it nice to look at. I love how people get mad at you for simply having an opinion different from the crowd. At least you gave your reasons and they were good ones.


8 Gilgamish September 25, 2010 at 6:45 pm

Yeah, sure I’ve heard that ‘song’ before… but dude it’s a damn good ‘song’. And it’s always interesting when an artist takes a shot at making it their own. But I’m guessing you don’t believe in ‘covers’. I think that’s a shame, because you’re limiting your enjoyment of the ‘song’.

So, dropping the metaphor, it seems your only major criticism of this film is that you’ve already seen movies with similar stories. Your review isn’t all that bad… good directing, good performances, and good cinematography. Dude, that’s a good movie, you just didn’t dig the story because you brought your baggage in with you. Any Intro to Theater prof will tell you that you don’t bring any outside crap in with you, you have to judge the show on it’s own merit. Which brings us back to Jesse’s post, spelling deficiencies aside, maybe he’s right, maybe you shouldn’t review films if you are going to limit your ability to enjoy something that much, and bring your own crap into it.


9 Henry September 25, 2010 at 9:48 pm

This movie was absolutely fantastic. The characters performed by Reener and Afflack was very believable, and the combination of director and lead role deffenitly worked for Afflack. Every argument yall have made is centered around the fact that movies like Heat were so much better and more original. Well, yall are gonna have to get used to movies that are predictable and have plots that seem familiar. This is because there is only so much compelling material out there. I have no problem with yalls arguments, because Heat is deffenitly a similar movie. However, I think the only way to review these movies in the 21st century is to forget about movies made in the early 90s and before. We need to start looking at movies in this light, because as I said before more and more material is used every year and writers are running out of material. Lastly, this movie wasn’t made for people who had seen Heat. The movie was made for people thirty years old and younger. Im 18 years old and I watched Heat after reading reviews of The Town. Obviously this made me think that the storyline was fresh and incredible when I first watched The Town. Just remember when reviewing these movies that the majority of the audience knows Robert De Niro from meet the Faukers and Al Pacino from Any Given Sunday. Obviously, the youth of the country is gonna have a skewed view of great acting.


10 Lela September 26, 2010 at 6:02 am

Glad I’m not the only one who has problems with this movie. The storyline was cliched and ultimately that derailed the whole thing for me. I was hoping for something new and fresh and felt the potential fell flat with the same old song and dance. I’m 29 and guessing I just have a healthy appreciation of crime drama from some of the other reviews posted here. (I have to recommend Carlito’s Way to the younger crowd here) I found myself completely unsympathetic towards the characters Affleck tries to revive hoping they were getting what was coming to them. (Glad to see Jana’s similar response.) I was disappointed with how they chose to handle Rebecca Hall’s character. I would have thought by the 21st century the female character could be more empowered and intelligent. Despite my problems with the storyline I do agree that Affleck shows some skill as a director if perhaps not as an actor. Honestly felt that Gone Baby Gone was a stronger movie between these two and find myself hoping he can get some better material under his belt for his next projects.


11 Debs September 26, 2010 at 8:18 pm

My friend said the movie was “great” and so I had to see it today. Great is the last word I’d choose. Cliched and superficial are more like it. The characters were not well developed or especially interesting. The pacing was taut but there was no real suspense, no twist. I agree that Hall and Renner turned in great performances. Hamm was disappointing. It scares me that this movie is garnering such rave reviews. The last “thriller” that thrilled me was Michael Clayton.


12 A. Prince September 27, 2010 at 1:18 am

Thank the lord for your review. I think you’re being nice. I hated the film. I thought the writing was weak and Ben Affleck’s acting was weaker. I am in complete shock that this movie has great reviews.


13 Eric Melin September 27, 2010 at 8:26 am

I’m glad this comment section has become a place where people can discuss the merits of the film itself–and maybe even a place where those of us who disliked it can vent. There has been a sort of critical consensus on the movie, and I realize I’m one of the few critics to give it a bad review.

It also seems that my number-one complaint–the film’s tired storyline–seems to have resonated with others as well. In that respect, I guess, its nice to know I’m not alone. I also agree with Lela that Rebecca Hall’s character turn was a cop out. It had to be that way to set up that cheesy, tacked-on ending.

As far as Gilgamesh goes, I have to disagree with your entire concept of “bringing your own crap into” movies. That’s what I do and that’s what any critic worth a crap should do. So, yes, my film degree comes into play and every other movie I’ve seen, but mostly my view of the world and this movie’s place in it. That said, I thought there were several points in the movie that were wholly unconvincing, outside of the fact that the story was cliched, so even then, it wasn’t only my comparative view that influenced me. The film just didn’t work on an emotional level. Although you are right, from a technical standpoint (certain performances, cinematography, etc.), there were things to enjoy. It just didn’t add up.


14 Tami September 27, 2010 at 12:48 pm

I completely agree with this review and thought there was something “wrong” with me since I didnt really like the movie and everyone else loves it. Like another poster put it, it wasnt a bad movie, but it wasnt great. I didnt get emotionally involved with Ben Affleck and i didnt buy the love interest. Such a deep connection, so quickly? I actually laughed during the scene where Ben Affleck and the female lead were at a cafe and out of nowhere she talks about how her brother died on sunny day like this. But completely appreciated the scene where he beats up the guys who were harrasing her when she was walking thru the hood. I agree this movie was predicatable and i was never on the edge of my seat wondering what was going to happen. I felt like I was watching a mashup of Heat, Carlitos Way and the Departed.
Im definitely going to have read more of Eric Melin’s reviews


15 Scott September 27, 2010 at 10:24 pm

I was pretty underwhelmed by this film. The cinematography was the saving grace of the experience for me. The emotional ties between the characters seemed totally implausible.
It just wasn’t as clever and didn’t have the depth of plot of other movies in the heist genre.

I would have been pleased to see more time spent on the development of the robbery plans, and less time spent on the cheesy emotional backstories.



16 Reece September 28, 2010 at 8:43 pm

1: Great Performances By All
2: Great Heists
3: Great Directing
4: Great Action (Three Heists)
5: Great Story (Based Off Hammett Prize Winning Novel Prince of Thieves for excellence in crime writing)
6: Taut with a very reasonable running time. (2hr. 3min.)
7: Evenly Paced


17 John September 30, 2010 at 2:56 pm

Right-on review. Maybe Matt Damon spiked the critic Kool-Aid at the last convention because this movie was not as good as it was reviewed. I thought Heat the entire time I was watching it. Noone came out of the theater proclaiming the greatness of the movie and I’m guessing nobody went home and discussed it like we all did after seeing Inception. This was a decent flick, not a great movie.


18 Rob September 30, 2010 at 5:34 pm

Just returned from watching the film and I was disappointed. Despite some good early tension in the scene where Jem shows up and meets Claire, the rest of the film was predictable (of course the gang will get away in the chase scenes – otherwise the movie would be over)and laughable (Claire falls for some schmuck she meets in a laundromat, and after he lies to her she still saves his bacon? Come on!). Most ridiculous is the fact that she doesn’t turn in the blood money from the Fenway robbery, but instead uses it to spruce up the hockey rink. Really? Finally, Jon Hamm may be excellent on Mad Men, but he does nothing but shout in this film. That ain’t acting. Thanks for having the cojones to go against the sheep who slobber over this film.


19 Lynn Morgan October 1, 2010 at 2:14 pm

I was feeling kind of stupid when i didnt like the movie but RT showed 98% rating.. Now i feel better. Like everyone else said, the move is Average. You can sit there for 1 time. Its not close to “The Departed” which it painstakingly trying to achieve and most definitely not Oscar worthy.
Most of my friends said they liked the movie so much but once i started to bring up the topic that this movie maybe overrated, they slowly joined in.


20 Eric Melin October 1, 2010 at 3:47 pm

Tami, Scott, John, Rob, and Lynn-

I’m starting to think that some of the overwhelmingly positive critical response might have been due to the drought of great flicks (save Pilgrim and Inception)this summer. Lynn’s comment is particularly telling. After an average film, its easy to just let the memory of it fade. Under any kind of critical light, though, this movie just wilts.


21 Ron October 3, 2010 at 6:27 am

I found this movie to be quite good to watch. I was sucked into all the positive reviews of Inception but found that to be a big letdown, I cared nothing for the characters or the premise. Now in The Town, sure it’s a cliched storyline, but it’s entertaining without dumbing things down too much. Pete Postelthwaite and Chris Cooper were effective in their small roles, and Affleck plays the lead role very well.

As for Jon Hamm, he managed to make me forget about Don Draper after awhile, his FBI agent had an ugly edge to him that Hamm conveyed well.

Sure this film might be overrated by some, but it was my first worthwhile trip to the theatre in quite some time.


22 holly October 6, 2010 at 8:20 am

I never see these kinds of Blockbusters -am alwasy disappointed and frustrated-but here my curiosity was piqued bc of all of the RAVE reviews. I should have stuck with my instinst – to stay away- I HATED this film. For starters how mnay btimes do I have to listen to the F word ? It doesn bother me if it is used but HOWMUCH

what the fuck
Where the fuck
who the fuck
Why the fuck
How the fuck
BEN WE GET YOURPOINT but this is FUCKING annaoying
esp with all of the lonh AAAAAA sounds (accent ) WHAAAAAAAT THAAAAAA FACK ? SOOOO ANNOYING
The script was preposterious!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Decent acting was not enough to compernsate fopr this disaster of a film


23 Alex October 7, 2010 at 2:29 pm

I can’t say that I fully agree with your review. I thought the movie was evenly paced and had some great acting in it. As the storyline is based on a masterpiece it is pretty hard for me to say that it is bad. I guess the only part I agree on is that Affleck did seem to be misplaced playing this character… perhaps he
should have been playing another role or not at all…


24 Rob October 13, 2010 at 5:27 pm

The reviewer is CORRECT. Only thing wrong with the review is he ignored many other problems except the bad acting.

-This film is predictable. I don’t understand why any movie that is so predictable and contrived can be considered “good.” This movie is average at best. It seems to be that people get lost in the action and overlook the story and characters. I truly think America is becoming dumber and dumber.

-The love story is a joke and takes up a good portion of the story. Background on the Florist or the imprisoned father? No, nothing but the same ole bullcrap love story (a Boston movie being Hollywood? No way!)

-Hamm really hammed it up. The most deadpan acting since Patel in Slumdog Millionaire. It’s almost like they were trying to recreate Wahlberg’s role in The Departed, but Hamm was soft and his “hard-hitting” onliners seem forced. Guy needs to go back to TV.

- Best actors in the film were passed over for more screen time for Wooden Affleck and mahogany Rebecca Hall. Pete Postlethwaite, Chris Cooper, and Jeremy Renner (all great actors and BRILLIANT compared to Affleck) are all pushed to the back of the script.

-AND FOR THE MOST COMPLETELY STUPID THING: Hamm cannot find Affleck, and even though Hall is his witness and the FBI has Affleck on surveillance, how am I supposed to believe that he is so allusive even after he is taking the bank manager on dates around the corner from the bank?

-And this ridiculous allusiveness leads to one of the most Ham-handed endings in movie history. Predictable and unrealistic. Florida isn’t a foreign country but we are made to believe that he disappeared there (No extradition)? Oh yeah, and he left money for his love who spends it on a hockey rink? The FBI would see an enormous sum of money spent by the girlfriend. Its like they gave up after a giant bloody heist where nearly 12 cops are killed. Unbelievable.

People may say I’m not using “suspension of disbelief” but then I tell them that if they like this garbage they are using a little too much of “suspension of your goddamn brain!”


25 Leo Hughes December 5, 2010 at 12:23 am

The primary problem I had with this movie is the inane scenes where these 4 idiots continually get away from the entire Boston police department. Especially moronic is the scene at Fenway, where 100 tactical cops aren’t able to get these 4 dummies. The 4 idiots somehow are able to take out a dozen fully armored tactical SWAT guys? Ridiculous. Well, SWAT eventually get most of them, but somehow Affleck just walks away unscathed. And then he doesn’t get what is coming to him at the end? Stupid ending. A better ending would have had the Hamm FBI character coming to Florida and doing a Dexter on him. And equally moronic was the stupid female character who “falls” for the criminal Affleck. What an insipid, dumb-ass female character. “Oh, you’re a bank-robbing killer, who puts my life at risk, but oh I just loove you! What a heart of gold I see in you Ben!”
If anyone in the movie deserved to die, it was her. Just for being a gullible moron, she deserved it.


26 John Symms December 18, 2010 at 2:32 pm

I watched “The Town” last night and at the movie’s end I felt let down and angry. This movie just has too many holes in it; it raises too many questions that go unanswered. For example, how do these criminals procure authentic police and paramedic uniforms, ditto the ambulance? How does Ms. Bank Lady *not* recognize Doug’s or Jem’s voices as those of her kidnappers? Why does she not tell the FBI about the distinctive tattoo on the neck of one of the bank robbers? She doesn’t give a good reason for leaving out this info.

I felt let down mainly because as soon as the romantic subplot is introduced I knew exactly where this movie was headed. (Why can’t villains be bad to the bone anymore?!) Uh oh, this is going to be a love story as much or more as it is going to be a bank-heist flick.

My anger was a result of the incoherent dialogue (these guys seem to grunt and grumble more than they talk); Doug’s painfully annoying South Boston brogue; and the abundance of cliches: girl falls in love with boy from the wrong side of the tracks; a criminal with a ‘good heart’; being forced to choose between a lifelong male buddy and girlfriend; the need for that one last heist that will set up the protagonist for life. I’ve seen these things used so many times in the past that I’m insulted that a director dares use them on the public yet once again.


27 William Schwartz January 17, 2011 at 9:01 am

I actually enjoyed most of this movie right until near the end when it was revealed that the FBI were monitoring Claire’s phone there were gasps in the audience. It was only at this point in the movie that I realized the audience was supposed to sympathize with Doug, and it was here that I felt a profound sense of disgust.

Doug is not a good person. He’s the smart guy in a team of bank robbers that feels no compunction about murdering innocent people who get in the way. He gives himself a big pat on the back for keeping them from killing more people, but hey, newsflash- you’re the only smart guy on a team of stupid bank robbers. They couldn’t rob a 7-11 without his help, in part because they’d waste time killing people for no reason. The man’s a classic enabler- the exact kind of person felony murder statutes were designed for.

I’m 23 years old and I reject the notion that young people can enjoy this movie because they don’t know the tropes. Anyone with a developed sense of morality should be sickened by the direction this plot takes. The movie seems to be saying “it’s OK if you aid and abet thugs and murderers because of peer pressure” and even more damningly, “the power of non-drug-addicted vagina makes you deserve a happy ending”. I hope Claire got tested for STDs, because Doug doesn’t strike me as the kind of guy who can stop feeling sorry for himself long enough to put on a condom.


28 Hans Sjaker April 11, 2011 at 2:10 pm

I really hated that movie. To see Ben Affleck’s face in close up shots for extended amounts of time is nauseating. Yes Ben, we know you think you are the hottest shit on this planet and god’s gift to women. We also know that you cannot act, but you think you can because you are so limitlessly full of yourself. The entire BPD cannot get a single car ? Try speeding through the middle of any major city, there will be cops, and there will be even more cops, there will be helicopters if you don’t stop, and then, you will be on CNN. His new love TELLS him that she could probably identify the robbers by their voices. Forget the fact that he is the only one who really talked to her, a lot. It is probably because she is in love, and love makes deaf. Well, the police must have done something right, because all of a sudden, all of them are in custody. How did that happen ? But we are only 45 minutes into the movie, and a movie is supposed to last at least 90 minutes, so BPD has to let them go, so the chase can continue. Would it be wise to at least put them under surveillance ? Well, I am not a cop, so I guess not.
Jeremy Renner is one hell of an actor, and he deserves better. I am sure Ben Affleck watched The Departed many times, because he is trying to recreate it. Bad idea.


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