Affleck plays it by the book

The Town (15) directed by and starring Ben Affleck, alongside Mad Men star

Affleck is a caring, sensitive bank robber. Sure he was born in a bad area – Charlestown, a predominantly Irish-American part of Boston that has produced more bank robbers than anywhere else in the States – but he’s got yearnings in him. Renner (from The Hurt Locker), though, is a nasty rather violent robber. Together, they are part of a four-man crew with two other blokes that nobody is interested in.

After Renner goes a little bit over the top during a bank job, they are concerned that the woman they briefly took hostage (Hall) could identify them. Renner talks ominously about dealing with the situation, so Affleck moves to assess the situation, chats her up and falls in love. Renner thinks this a tad rash and short-sighted, but then he probably said the same about J-Lo.

If that hackneyed plot turn isn’t enough to ruin your faith in the film’s credibility, sit tight, because there’s plenty more to follow. Affleck’s follow-up to a lively first effort at directing, Gone Baby Gone is a strictly-by-the-book piece of FBI and bank robbers hokum. It’s a police procedural in as much as every scene, every dilemma, every character has been played out a thousand times before.

As befits a film part produced by Thunder Road Film Production, it ploughs that Springsteen furrow of mournful blue collar fatalism. Method acting was supposed to free up and invigorate acting, now its mumbled intensity feels as stylised and regulated as Noh drama. Neither Affleck nor Renner actually get to punch a fridge out of frustration, but they do it with their eyes.

Of course, if unimaginative, clich�d crime dramas are your thing, then this may do the job – it does include a couple of very noisy, Heat-style, assault rifle shoot outs.

Director Ben Affleck

Most Read

Starring Ben Affleck, James Renner, Rebecca Hall, Jon Hamm, Blake Lively and Pete Postlethwaite

125 mins

Two stars