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Review: The Town

In a country that prides itself on freedom from need, some can only grapple with mere survival.

Some men protect themselves with lawyers, with others, money. Doug MacRay (Ben Affleck) defends himself with a gun. Doug and his crew are planning their next job, the one that will be the job that puts Charlestown out of his sights for good.

Before he can leave he has to figure out a way around his involvement with a bank manager Claire Keesey (Rebecca Hall), who was part of their previous heist and an enthusiastic Special Agent (Jon Hamm), could put Doug away for life.

Stephen (featuring a stellar Chris Cooper), Doug's father, provides a powerful foil for MacRay as a man who didn't leave when the getting was good and ended up in prison for life. Stephen is what Doug hopes to escape becoming: trapped in Charlestown forever. James (Jeremy Renner) views Doug's hopes of leaving Charlestown as a personal betrayal and refuses to accept that proposition.

Boston could often be seen as a character in itself in The Town, the blue collar city is featured predominantly in tales like this of people who can only get by and what they can do - regardless of morality. A sense of quiet desperation is prevalent and present through every character.

Claire and Doug's chemistry in the film is palpable despite her misgivings about trusting again. Hamm's Special Agent Frawley evens out his charisma with an acceptable amount of cold determination, a man desperate to put the crew behind bars for life without any more casualties. Pete Postlethwaite's role is very small, but he is a very frightening man. Fergie, infact, may be the most despicable person onscreen this year. Renner might garner another Academy nod for his intense performance as James, but the Supporting Actor field looks stacked right now, so we'll see. The action scenes, which I had some questions about prior to the film, are shot very well, leaving little doubt in my mind regarding Affleck's future as a director.

Ben Affleck has reached a stage in his career where I think he very well may be the next Clint Eastwood. Eastwood never really made his name as an actor until he was in his mid thirties; Affleck may have been a known name before his thirties, but it is now that he is truly coming into his own in his portrayals (Hollywoodland, State of Play). Also like Eastwood as a director he has themes that he revisits each time to a more devastating effect. With The Town and Gone Baby Gone under Affleck's belt I think it's safe to say we may have one of the next great American directors coming up.

***1/2 out of ****

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