The Town (2010 film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Ben Affleck|
|Based on||Prince of Thieves
by Chuck Hogan
|Edited by||Dylan Tichenor|
|Distributed by||Warner Bros. Pictures|
|Box office||$154 million|
The Town is a 2010 American crime drama film directed, co-written and starring Ben Affleck, adapted from Chuck Hogan's novel Prince of Thieves. It also stars Rebecca Hall, Jon Hamm, Jeremy Renner, Blake Lively, Titus Welliver, Pete Postlethwaite and Chris Cooper and follows a group of Boston bank robbers who set out to get one final score by robbing Fenway Park.
The film premiered on September 8, 2010 at the Venice Film Festival before being released theaters in the United States on September 17, 2010 to positive reviews. Renner was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance, while Postlethwaite was posthumously nominated for the BAFTA Award for Best Supporting Actor.
Four lifelong friends from the Boston neighborhood of Charlestown, Douglas "Doug" MacRay, James "Jem" Coughlin, Albert "Gloansy" MacGloan, and Desmond "Dez" Elden, rob a bank. They take the manager, Claire Keesey, hostage, but release her unharmed. When they find out Claire lives in their neighborhood, Doug begins to follow her to find out how much she has told the authorities, and to make sure that Jem does not eliminate her as a witness. Soon a romance grows between them, which Doug hides from the gang. As they grow closer, Doug tells Claire of his search for his long-lost mother, whom he believes went to live with his aunt in Tangerine, Florida. He also recounts his chance to be a professional hockey player which he threw away for a life of crime, following in his father's footsteps. She in turn tells Doug that she saw a tattoo on one of the robbers, and he realizes that she can identify Jem and send them all to jail. He knows that Jem will kill her if he discovers the truth, so he persuades her that the authorities cannot protect her, and she decides not to tell the police.
After Claire tells Doug about being harassed and her car vandalized by Alex, a local thug, Doug enlists Jem for a favor, which they can never talk about. Doug and Jem don hockey masks and violently assault the offenders without Jem knowing the true reason for the favor is to protect Claire.
FBI Agent Adam Frawley surveils the gang and recognizes their ties to local crime lord Fergus "Fergie" Colm, who has another robbery planned for them. During a visit to his father Stephen in prison, Doug reveals his plans to leave Boston and go to Florida. The gang's next robbery in the North End goes awry, and the gang barely escapes. The gang is interrogated by Frawley, but he fails to get any confessions and is forced to release them. Doug asks Claire if she will go away with him, and she agrees. When Frawley learns that Claire quit her job, he wiretaps her phone, and threatens to prosecute her as an accomplice after realizing that she is seeing Doug. Shocked to discover that her lover was one of her assailants, she is forced to cooperate with the FBI and breaks up with Doug. Meanwhile, Fergie and Jem are pressuring Doug about the next heist, but Doug is determined to get out. Fergie threatens to kill Claire if Doug does not go through with the job, and reveals to Doug how he controlled his father by making his mother an addict, which led to her suicide. Doug gives in but swears that he will kill Fergie if anything happens to Claire.
At Fenway Park, Doug and Jem enter disguised as Boston police officers, steal $3,500,000 in gate cash, and prepare to escape in an ambulance disguised as paramedics. Doug's ex-girlfriend and Jem's sister Krista, threatened by Frawley and heartbroken by Doug's going away without her, reveals enough for the FBI to surround Fenway before the gang can get out. The gang is caught in a firefight with FBI SWAT, and Dez and Gloansy are killed. Frawley spots Jem and they exchange gunfire. Jem, determined not to go back to prison and out of ammunition, commits suicide by cop by running out of cover with his guns unloaded and is killed. Knowing that Claire is in danger and that he will never escape as long as Fergie is alive, Doug murders Fergie and his bodyguard and calls Claire. Watching from across the street via binoculars, Doug sees that the FBI are with Claire as she tells him to come over, he at first thinks she means to betray him, but eventually she gives him a clue to warn him away, which he picks up on. So Doug flees instead, donning an MBTA uniform and escaping on a train; having left a note on Frawley's car for him to "Go Fuck Yourself". Later, whilst gardening, Claire finds a bag buried containing the stolen money, a tangerine, and a note from Doug, suggesting that she can make better use of the money than he can, and that they'll hopefully see each other again. Claire donates the money, in memory of Doug's mother, to refurbish the local ice hockey arena where Doug once played. From the deck of a small house, Doug looks out over the water, forlorn and alone, but seemingly safe in Florida.
- Ben Affleck as Douglas "Doug" MacRay
- Rebecca Hall as Claire Keesey
- Jon Hamm as FBI Special Agent Adam Frawley
- Jeremy Renner as James "Jem" Coughlin
- Blake Lively as Krista "Kris" Coughlin
- Chris Cooper as Stephen MacRay
- Pete Postlethwaite as Fergus "Fergie" Colm
- Slaine as Albert "Gloansy" MacGloan
- Owen Burke as Desmond "Dez" Elden
- Titus Welliver as Officer Dino Ciampa
- Dennis McLaughlin as Rusty
- Brian Scannell as Henry
- Isaac Bordoy as Alex Colazzo
- Jack Neary as Arnold Washton
- Edward O'Keefe as Morton Previt
- Victor Garber as David
In 2006, director Adrian Lyne brought Chuck Hogan's novel Prince of Thieves to producer Graham King. King in turn showed it to Warner Bros. studio, who agreed to make an adaptation directed by Lyne and written by Sheldon Turner. Given screenwriting attempts by Turner, Hogan himself and screenwriter Peter Craig did not manage to build a script that fit Warner's requirement for a standard two-hour length movie with a $37 million budget. By 2008, The Town was decided as the title and Ben Affleck, fresh off his directorial debut in Gone Baby Gone, was brought in to serve as star, director and co-writer. Affleck wanted to direct a movie "I personally researched and understood", inviting high school classmate Aaron Stockard to work with him on the script, and travelling to Boston to research on the subject. While Affleck had grown up in Cambridge, Massachusetts, he barely heard of Charlestown before joining the project. Affleck and Stockard conducted many interviews with the Charlestown community, as well as the FBI Violent Crimes Task Force in Boston. Later the film's actors also researched within the community to make for more believable characters and performances. Charlestown locals also joined the cast, mostly as extras.
Filming began in late August 2009 in Boston. The former MASSBank branch located in Melrose, Massachusetts, was used as the location for the first robbery of the film, taking on the name Cambridge Merchants Bank (the exterior shots, however, are of Cambridge Savings Bank in Harvard Square). Filming also took place at Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, Connecticut, for casino scenes, Massachusetts Correctional Institution – Cedar Junction in Walpole, Massachusetts, for use of their visiting room, and at Anderson Regional Transportation Center in Woburn, Massachusetts, for the ending Amtrak scenes.
The film took #1 at the box office during its opening weekend, taking in $23.8 million. The Town grossed $92.1 million in the United States and Canada with an additional $61.8 million in other territories for a total of $154 million worldwide on a production budget of $37 million.
The film was released on Blu-ray Disc and DVD on December 17, 2010. Both versions include special features and an audio commentary including a look at Affleck as a director and actor. The extended/unrated version is a Blu-ray/DVD/Digital Copy bundle which includes 28 minutes of additional footage, taking the runtime to over 153 minutes.
On March 6, 2011, the three-disc The Town: Ultimate Collector's Edition DVD/Blu-ray set was released. This set includes the previously released theatrical and extended cut Blu-ray disc as well as a second Blu-ray disc and a DVD which feature a new extended cut with an alternate, darker ending.
On February 5, 2012, to promote the upcoming The Town: Ultimate Collector's Edition set, the AMC Loews Boston Common theater hosted an "exclusive engagement" of The Town (Take 2), wherein three showings of the film were shown with the alternate ending featured in the new home media release. Immediately preceding each screening, a vice president from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment thanked all those in attendance, including Titus Welliver (Dino Ciampa), Dennis McLaughlin (Rusty), and Affleck's mother, for coming out and supporting director Affleck's "preferred" version of the film, leading to a short, prerecorded introduction by Affleck himself. Earlier that day, the intersection of Tremont and Avery streets was temporarily renamed "The Town Take 2 Place" in a small ceremony, attended by Welliver and Boston city officials.
The Town received largely positive reviews, with critics praising the film's action sequences, Affleck's direction, and Renner's performance. Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes gave the film a rating of 94%, based on 214 reviews, with an average rating of 7.7/10. The site's consensus reads, "Tense, smartly written, and wonderfully cast, The Town proves that Ben Affleck has rediscovered his muse -- and that he's a director to be reckoned with." Metacritic gives the film a score of 74 out of 100, based on 42 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".
Roger Ebert gave the film 3 out of 4 stars, praising Renner's performance and Affleck's direction. In his review for The New York Times, A. O. Scott commented on the opening heist, "That sequence, like most of the other action set pieces in the film, is lean, brutal and efficient, and evidence of Mr. Affleck’s skill and self-confidence as a director." Xan Brooks, in The Guardian, wrote that the action sequences were "sharply orchestrated" but added "it's a bogus, bull-headed enterprise all the same; a film that leaves no cliche untrampled." Justin Chang wrote in Variety that the action scenes strike "an ideal balance between kineticism and clarity" aided by cinematographer Robert Elswit and film editor Dylan Tichenor. Richard Roeper of the Chicago Sun Times gave the film an A+, noting that he found the film incredibly similar to Michael Mann's Heat, which he described as "one of [his] favorite movies of all time." The reviewers at Spill.com also praised one of the shootout scenes, saying "It is surely the best shootout scene we have seen in decades." Writing in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Laremy Lengel titled his review "The Town Works Best if You Avoid the Heat," also referencing Mann's film.
As a Boston-based crime drama, the film forms part of a "crime-movie subgenre" typically marked by "flavorsome accents, pungent atmosphere and fatalistic undertow", according to Chang. Within that subgenre, which includes The Boondock Saints, The Departed, Mystic River and Affleck's Gone Baby Gone, The Town is more of a straightforward crime-procedural and has a more optimistic outlook.
|National Board of Review of Motion Pictures||Top Ten Films||Won|
|Best Acting by an Ensemble Cast||Won|
|Broadcast Film Critics Association Award||Best Film||Nominated|
|Best Screenplay||Ben Affleck, Peter Craig and Aaron Stockard||Nominated|
|Best Action Film||Nominated|
|Best Supporting Actor||Jeremy Renner||Nominated|
|Academy Award||Best Supporting Actor||Nominated|
|Golden Globe Award||Best Supporting Actor||Nominated|
|Screen Actors Guild Award||Best Supporting Actor||Nominated|
|Satellite Award||Best Supporting Actor||Nominated|
|Best Adapted Screenplay||Peter Craig||Nominated|
|Best Editing||Dylan Tichenor||Nominated|
|BAFTA Award||Best Supporting Actor||Pete Postlethwaite (posthumous)||Nominated|
Charlestown, bank robbery, and crime
A voice in the trailer of the film says: "There are over 300 bank robberies in Boston every year. Most of these professionals live in a 1-square-mile neighborhood called Charlestown." In fact, there were 23 reported bank robberies in the entire state of Massachusetts in the first quarter of 2010, compared with 49 in Illinois and 136 in California, according to the FBI.
The film itself, however, only states that "One blue-collar Boston neighborhood has produced more bank robbers and armored car thieves than anywhere in the world." It then quotes an unnamed Boston Robbery Task Force Federal Agent as saying, "Bank robbery became like a trade in Charlestown, passed down from father to son." During the film, Agent Frawley tells Claire something along these lines, and says that when the BPD gets a call about an armored car robbery it has become standard procedure to close the Charlestown Bridge.
The film ends with a written disclaimer: "Charlestown's reputation as a breeding ground for armed robbers is authentic. However, this film all but ignores the great majority of the residents of Charlestown, past and present, who are the same good and true people found most anywhere," to whom the film is dedicated.
According to a September 2010 article in The Boston Globe, Charlestown was once known as an area where bank robbers were concentrated, but has not been since the mid-1990s, and the subject has been a sore point for "Townies". Now much of the neighborhood has been gentrified. The paper reported there is some sense of rivalry between Townies, people who lived in the historically Irish-Catholic neighborhood for decades, and "Toonies", largely white-collar workers who arrived with gentrification, but most of that has died down. The film makes reference to the definition of "Toonies" during one of Doug and Claire's dates.
In the early 1990s, an increase in the number of bank and armored car robberies by Townies focused attention on Charlestown. In one heist in Hudson, New Hampshire, two guards were killed, and is alluded to in the film - during a scene where Agent Frawley is briefing his task force, he mentions that Doug's father is serving life for a notorious robbery in Nashua. According to Frawley, the elder MacRay hijacked a "bread truck" (armored car) up to New Hampshire, and when one of the guards saw his face, he executed both of them with their own weapons. Frawley notes that this incident led to the passing of regulations prohibiting the driver from leaving the cab even if his partner is being held at gunpoint. Charles Hogan got the idea for his novel, on which the film is based, in 1995. "It was just so remarkable that this one very small community was the focus for bank robbers," he said, but he was very aware that crime was only one part of the community, and he did not want to make all residents of the neighborhood look like criminals. At the film's premiere, Affleck made a similar statement: "Charlestown isn’t full of bank robbers and Dorchester isn’t full of bad guys and Southie isn't full of math geniuses or bad people."
Jack O'Callahan, a Charlestown native born in 1957, said there was an element of crime in Charlestown when he grew up there, "But it didn't bleed into the neighborhood. And those guys were pretty good parents who went to church on Sundays. They were gangsters, but they were good neighbors."
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- Scott, A.O. Bunker Hill to Fenway: A Crook’s Freedom Trail. The New York Times, September 17, 2010
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