I went into this movie knowing absolutely about it, there was little advance hoopla that I can recall, that usually accompanies a major motion picture.
The idea of mask wearing, semi automatic toting nuns at once seems invigorating and slightly surreal, but the viciousness, and sloppy impulse control of one of the robbers played brilliantly by Jeremy Renner (of Hurt Locker) immediately brings us crashing into the reality of what's happening.
These hardened ruthless criminals hide behind a funny mask, and will eliminate anyone who gets in their way. So they kidnap the attractive female bank manager played adorably by Rebecca Hall for leverage, and let her go.
Upon checking her drivers license, and discovering she lives in their neighborhood, the psycho wants her eliminated to cover their tracks. Ben Affleck's character takes the card and decides to investigate her, and discover what she knows. One thing leads to another, and the lives of everyone involved starts to move in ever decreasing circles as the FBI investigation starts closing in.
The story is brilliantly told, and the theater audience responded to the irony of the conversations between the criminal and his unknowing victim.
Ben Affleck's character seems a little at odds with his criminal life, and you wonder why he is a bank robber, nevertheless he has a well developed dark side, and is very resourceful, resourceful enough to be the the architect.
But you also get the sense that here is a guy could go straight if he chose to, and that dilemma of wonder is what makes this movie so great. He makes the good choice of distancing himself from an addicted ex girlfriend, yet makes bad choices as well. But in order to get to that place of going straight he is forced to make criminal but understandable choices, some of which may surprise you.
You can tell that this is somewhat of a passion project. The movie is set in Boston as was Goodwill Hunting for which he won the Oscar for Best screenplay with Matt Damon. Here Affleck shows he is perhaps the under admired element of that partnership as he wears not only a mask but the multiple hats of Director, Actor, and Writer, and as the architect of this movie pulls all those elements together.
The Town is one of those movies that just works on every level, without falling into the trap of just another formula caper movie. In some ways the mask wearing robbers reminded me of the the Presidential mask wearing robbers of Point Break (Pure Adrenaline Edition)starring Patrick Swayze and Keanu Reeves.
As I think back on the best movies of the last several months I think of the over the top antics in Machete, the intellectual stimulation of Inception, and now the mystery and dilemmas of The Town. The Town manages to convey some Indie style while not following the typical Hollywood formula.
It would be remiss not to mention the brilliant ensemble cast, Jon Hamm of Mad Men as the FBI agent, and Jeremy Renner. Particularly though I found Rebecca Hall to be an amazing and beautiful talent. According to the imdb star meter her popularity has risen 570% in the past week. She also starred as Vicky in the Woody Allen movie Vicky Christina Barcelona, and I predict her star will continue to rise.