Having seen Ben Affleck's most recent movie, "The Town" when it first came out in the movie theatres and then again on DVD, I made sort of an about-face change in my outlook towards it. I had enjoyed it at first, but then after another look at "The Town", I began to view this film with a harder, more negative eye. Being from the Boston area myself, I've always enjoyed seeing movies about Boston, so I'd been looking forward to seeing "The Town". However, I realize that all the hype was for naught, the more I look back on it.
"The Town" , which is about four tough Townie (lifetime Charlestown residents) men who rob banks and armored cars for a living, and are known for being slick, disciplined and extremely professional about getting what they want and coming away clean, becomes more complex, and progressively stupider when the first heist in the film goes wrong and they take Claire Keesey, the pretty young bank manager, as a hostage after forcing her to open the vault at gunpoint while wearing masks, blindfolding her, driving her around, and then forcing her to walk to the water, while blindfolded, all after brutalizing her co-worker and assistant manager by beating him up with the butt of a rifle and almost killing him. Claire is let go, unharmed, but rather terrorized and traumatized by the whole experience. Later (Doug MacRay, the more restrained leader of the bandits) meets the weeping Claire "by chance' in a Charlestown laundromat, comforts her by putting the romance moves on her in order to see what she knows, and, then, after asking her out on a date, uses his prodigious charm and charisma to warn Claire not to go to the police/Feds, or else!
Things get more complicated, since Doug's righthand man and best buddy, "Jem", who's much more crazy and unstable, wishes to get rid of Claire by assaulting and killing her, but Doug wasn't having it. Doug and his men commit an armored truck robbery in the North End, shooting and almost killing a guard, and then go on a wild goose chase throughout the city. Doug and Claire begin dating and spending more time together, and the Feds eventually learn of Doug and Claire's relationship through a recorded telephone conversation between the two of them. When "Jem" comes around and disrupts a luncheon date between Doug and Claire at a pizzaria , Doug is shocked, intimidated, and then angry. Claire is also shocked, but says nothing. When Agt. Frawley comes to Claire's house and shows her the picture of Doug MacRay, who's one of the suspects in the latest heist, in which Claire was taken hostage, Claire is shocked, but continues to stay in contact with Doug (who also buys her an expensive diamond necklace with his ill-gotten(stolen) money), even after learning who he is.
At Fergie's command, despite Doug's initial unwillingness to do another heist, which involves robbing Fenway Park (he's been hoping to skip town with Claire and start a new life, due to being hunted down by the Feds for being an armed felon and wanted fugitive), he consents to the job anyhow, and threatens to kill Fergie and his bodyguard, Rusty, an IRA gunrunner, in their own shop, if any harm comes to his girlfriend, Claire. Dressed as ambulance drivers and then later, as cops, Doug and his men rob Fenway Park of three million dollars or more, after one of his men, Dez Elden, disables the security alarm.
Krista, the drug/alcohol-addled sister of "Jem" and former girlfriend of Doug MacRay, with an infant daughter named Shyne, who has also helped planned the heists, book the hotel, sleeps around town with too many men, and acts as a drug mule for "Fergie" the Florist, who's Charlestown's crime boss, is angered by Doug's having spurned her for Claire. Krista, an extremely troubled individual, also gets in a DUI accident with Shyne, is injured and ends up in MGH's emergency room, where she's visited by FBI Agt. Frawley, who warns Krista that she could possibly lose her daughter if she doesn't cooperate and tell him where the robberies are taking place. Krista rats Doug MacRay and his men out to the Feds, partly in retaliation for Doug's rejection of her for Claire the bank manager, and partly out of not wanting to lose her daughter. There is a shootout between the Feds, the cops and Doug MacRay and his men in Fenway Park. Jem, Dez and Gloansy (Doug MacRay's men) are gunned down, and Doug skips town after leaving tons of stolen money for Claire, in her community garden, with a tangerine (hinting that he'll be heading for Tangerine, Florida, where he thought his mother was, after she left his father, who's serving a lifelong prison term in MCI-Cedar Junction for bank robbery and murder). Doug MacRay was once a pro hockey player, with an opportunity to be a star, but blew it through his own arrogance, cockiness and his forays with drugs and alcohol. He ends up working intermittently in Boston Sand and Gravel, and going into the bank robbery business, like his father)
Doug and his men are once again very skillful at making it extremely difficult for the law to trail them and find real evidence, even though their identities are known to the FBI and to local and state cops. They manage to pour bleach all over the place after their heists to destroy evidence. However, Agt. Frawley doesn't give up. He's determined to bring Doug and his men down. Doug finally shoots and kills Fergie and Rusty in the flower shop. Meanwhile, in a last-ditch effort to catch Doug MacRay, who's orchestrated all the heists, Agt. Frawley instructs a reluctant Claire to have Doug come to her apartment. Doug is on the way to her apartment, and watches Claire from across the street, after she's agreed to come to Florida with him and encouraged him. Claire, who's also got heat on her from the Feds due to her relationship with Doug, gets a phone call from Doug asking her if she's okay. Claire says she is, and that there are no police in her house. However, upon seeing one of the Feds cock his gun, Claire has a change of heart and tips Doug off with a "sunny days" code, warning Doug not to come to her house. Realizing that he's been duped by Claire and Doug, Frawley takes his men away, calls off the stake-out, and requests that Doug MacRay's photos and descriptions be circulated, and pointing out to Claire that the FBI is a national organization.
Doug skips town and takes the train to Miami, disguised as a bus driver, in a uniform that he took from his uncle's apartment, but not before burying the ill-gotten money in Claire's community garden with a long goodbye note that ends with the phrase "I'll see you again, this side or the other."
Here's what I think of "The Town', overall:
This movie is not only quite overrated, but rather cheesy on the long run, with a mediocre cast at best. I realize that The Town is fiction, but, come on...there's got to be some plausibility to the story and something believable, but there's nothing plausible about it, as far as I'm concerned. The whole story's implausible. No bank robber would fall in love with a woman that he'd just robbed at gunpoint, in a mask, and then taken hostage and abducted in real life. A bank robber wouldn't be so sympathetic to a weeping, groveling, stressed-out woman in a laundromat that he'd just traumatized by making her a crime victim , either. Also, in real life, Claire, who was either naive or willfully stupid for not having picked up any hints who Doug really was from the beginning, got into a romance with him, and then stuck with him even after learning of his criminal exploits, accepting expensive Tiffany diamond necklaces as gifts from him, as well as the ill-gotten money that he buried in her community garden, that she spent on restoring a Charlestown hockey rink and dedicating it to her criminal boyfriend's mother who she never knew, would've either been criminally prosecuted herself, or at least put on probation, for having abetted and tipped off an armed felon and wanted fugitive (Doug MacRay), and for receiving stolen goods.
Frankly, after the first heist, "The Town" began to go straight downhill for me. The shoot-out scenes and car chases/crashes in the North End and Fenway Park are totally unrealistic. Nobody could've survived them, and there was too much exploding on the screen. The cast was mediocre at best, the Boston accents, especially on the part of Ben Affleck, were forced and overdone, and there was too much slipshod, slaphappy editing on the part of Ben Affleck and his assistant producer(s).
Also, nobody could get past lawmakers and cops that easily with guns and just skip town these days. What most people are made to not realize is that Doug MacRay is on the lam from the law, which is why he ultimately leaves Claire behind.
Before Doug skips town, however, he goes into the flower shop and shoots both "Fergie" and Rusty dead. and then buries the stolen money in Claire's garden. I think that the phrase I'll see you again, this side or the other" is a euphemistic way of saying that they're not ever going to re-unite, and that at some level, both he and Claire know that Doug'll eventually be hunted down, caught by the law, tried and sent to prison for his crimes, or maybe even die a violent death at the hands of the law, and that his having Claire around would invariably put her in the line of fire, and therefore in mortal danger.
I also believe that had the ending been different, "The Town" might've been better. Claire, imho, should've kept her big, fat mouth shut, not tipped Doug off, and let the Feds do the job they were assigned to do; catch Doug MacRay and bring him to justice, with a trial and a long, hard term in a federal penitentiary for his crimes, and Claire should've been criminally prosecuted herself, or put on some kind of probation for abetting and aiding an armed felon and wanted fugitive, and letting him escape the law.
I sympathized with Claire at first after she was robbed and kidnapped, but lost all sympathy for her when she became involved in a full-scale romance with Doug, allowed him to buy an expensive Tiffany diamond necklace for her, and stuck with him even after learning who he was. Imho, less time could've and should've been spent on the Doug-Claire romance (which was rather immature and teen-like) and more time on the heists, and development of the characters of this film. A better cast might've made the difference, too, I think.
The incident where the two Dominican men from the housing project attacked Claire and threw bottles at her while she was walking through on her way to or from work, and Doug and Jem broke into their apartment, beat them, permanently crippled them and ordered them out of Charlestown, imho, was totally unnecessary (it wasn't even in the book "Prince of Thieves", on which "The Town" was based), and overdone. "jem" was clearly a man of violence. Doug was not the decent guy that he came off as, but a sociopath who was also given to unprovoked violence, as this incident indicated, and he exploited Claire as a go-between, by worming his way into her heart and charming her into trusting him, so as to prevent her from talking to the Feds and blowing their cover. Doug also used Claire as a go-between, I think, by leaving the stolen money for her, to use for restoring the rink. Krista was also exploited by Doug and Jem, mainly for sex and as a go-between. I found myself being more sympathetic to Krista, who'd grown up with professional armed robbers and wanted fugitives such as Doug and Jem, and who'd had fewer choices than Claire Keesey, who was educated, with a decent income as a bank manager, and who'd chosen badly, wrongly and stupidly when she took up with Doug.
Was Claire Keesey really that dim-witted that she didn't pick up any hints from the beginning of what Doug MacRay was really up to when he approached her in the laundromat and asked her for a date? Either she was dim-witted, or willfully stupid, imho.
"The Town" sends a troubling message; That it's okay to steal other people's money that one has no right to and to put the very lives and safety of innocent bank employees and customers alike in the process and brutalize them to boot, if they stand in one's way. This movie also provides the message that it's okay to lie to the Feds about who Doug was, and about not having seen anything that would identify any of the men, and to lie about their relationship, even though the Feds know who the suspect is, and that they're in a relationship with each other, to aid and abet an armed felon and wanted fugitive, enabling him to go free, and to make total dupes of Federal agents and other law enforcement people who have been assigned to bring known criminals like Doug MacRay to justice. Claire did lie to the Feds and aid and abet Doug, allowing him to go free, and made a total dupe of an FBI Agent who was out to do his job of bringing Doug MacRay to prison for his crimes, which he deserved. Claire, imho, deserves no sympathy, and should've been punished in some way for her actions and behaviors. Sorry, but that's how i feel about "The Town" overall.
3. I'm Guessing That There Are A Lot Of Movies That Piss You Off.
Helpful Hint: There's a Spike Lee movie from a few years ago entitled "Do The Right Thing." BE FOREWARNED: Not all of the characters do the right thing, some of the characters aren't punished for their misdeeds, and the ending isn't particularly joyful. Not your kind of flick.....
8. Although I've heard about Spike Lee's "Do The Right Thing",
I've never seen it, so I can't compare it with other films. Also, not every film that I see pisses me off. What bothers me about "The Town" is the fact that it seems to really carry the message that it's okay for people to not only steal money that innocent people have earned through making an honest living, but that it's okay to victimize them, as well as innocent bank employees through violence, terror, killing and permanantly maiming those who are considered an impediment to that kind of lifestyle. Also, "The Town" provides the message that it's okay to exploit women, whether it be as sort of a sex object rather than a true-blue human being with human feelings, or a woman who's just been a victim of their crimes as a bargaining chip to ensure that their cover doesn't get blown if she talks to the Feds, or as a bargaining chip for a guy like Doug MacRay who's on the lam from the law, as someone to elope with.
It's also hard to believe that Doug was so far from reality that he really thought that he'd skip town and start a new life with Claire, after the stuff that he'd pulled. It obviously didn't happen for a reason; it was not Doug or Claire's destination.
5. Wow, you really dissected that movie. I think you are pretty
much dead on but can you believe how successful that movie was? Right now, that writer Peter Craig is the most in demand writer in hollywood. Go figure. To his credit, the movie keeps moving. Never a dull moment.
6. One problem with "The Town", however, zonkers, is that
Edited on Sun Nov-06-11 08:33 PM by independentminded
it's way too fast-paced, with very little, if any time, for the audience to really catch a "breather" every now and then, if one gets the drift. Don't get me wrong; I've always liked action-packed films as well, but this one was just too fast, overly exaggerated in many ways, the story as a whole too implausible, and the cast at large (Jeremy Renner and Pete Postlethwaite were the only two really convincing actors in the whole thing; Jem did a great job playing the PCP'd, crazed "Jem", and Pete Postlethwaite did a pretty good job of playing Charlestown's crime boss, Fergie the Florist).
Sure, the critics were bowled over by "The Town", as were most people, but that doesn't mean that one needs to agree with the critics all the time.
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