Town – Day Eighteen – #40movies40days

large-ben-afleck-the-townThis is going to be a short post because it is Sunday and I spent the afternoon eating ribs with a table full of writers.  I am full, happy and a bit drowsy.  The movie I selected, a screener I hadn’t seen yet, was good solid entertainment but not particularly thought provoking.

Town, well-directed by Ben Affleck, revisits Good Will Hunting territory.  Affleck plays bank robber and armored car heist specialist Doug MacRay.  The film is set in Charlestown, a heavily Irish working class neighborhood just to the north of Boston, which  has produced more bank robbers per capita than anywhere else in the nation.

Like Will Hunting, Doug MacRay has the smarts and the talent to make it out of the limited circumstances and dead-end options in the neighborhood.  Also, like Will, Doug seems determined never to take that step and make his way in the wider world.  Doug got a chance at a pro hockey career, only to blow the opportunity by fighting and general bad behavior.  A second chance dissolved in drug use and heavy drinking.

130842_2010-toronto-film-festival-ben-affleck-takes-on-the-townDoug’s s dad (Chris Cooper) is in prison for killing two men during a robbery. Doug now is sober but professionally he’s following in his father’s footsteps. Jeremy Renner is almost unrecognizable as Doug’s tough best friend Gem, a hot head with limited intelligence.  Doug has expertly planned and executed several bank robberies for Gem and his crew.

During the heist that opens the film Doug and the crew take a female bank manager hostage. By a strange stroke of luck she lives quite nearby where the crew has their headquarters.  Doug arranges a “chance meeting” to see what she can remember and if she might recognize any of them.  She does not– although she mistakenly insists she would recognize what was his voice if she heard it again.

Doug, of course, falls in love with her.  He wants to leave the racket but is trapped by threats to her life if he quits.  Doug is forced to pull of one large master heist at the Temple of Boston– Fenway Park– after the cash glut of a sold out game.  There are several surprise twists and interesting character revelations that make the movie very satisfying to watch.

For me it was a reminder of how hard it is to escape from the past and how many of the things that keep us mired in old habits or stuck in old ways of thinking often aren’t even true.

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