The Town (15, 124 mins)
Director: Ben Affleck ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
The Town begins with a title card telling us that the Boston neighbourhood of Charlestown has over the years produced more bank robbers than anywhere else in the world. One such villain is Ben Affleck’s Doug MacRay, who along with potentially psychotic partner in crime Jimmy (Jeremy Renner) holds up a city bank managed by Rebecca Hall’s Claire. When Doug is forced to make contact with an unsuspecting Claire to find out what she’s told the police, it’s the catalyst for a muscular crime drama that marries a classical cops and robbers thriller to a believable romance and a search for redemption. A lean Affleck impresses in his first starring role in years, as does an edgy Renner, and Mad Men’s Jon Hamm is superb as the unswerving fed trying to build a case against them. It’s the relationship between Doug and Jimmy that gives The Town much of its dramatic and thematic heft, neatly sketching a tight-lipped community of blood brothers and codes of honour. As director Affleck expertly orchestrates thunderous shootouts and dizzying chases, and as co-writer peppers what could be well-worn scenes with crisp and evocative dialogue, even if the movie as a whole never quite achieves the moral complexity of his magnificent Gone Baby Gone.