On Wednesday, I saw The Town, starring Ben Affleck and Rebecca Hall.
Doug MacRay (Affleck) was the good kid from a bad Boston family. Dad is behind bars, mom has disappeared and his best friend, troublemaker Jim (Jeremy Renner) has taken him in as an adopted brother.
When we meet Doug and Jim, they're robbing a bank with their friends, and we see that Doug shows compassion for their hostage Claire (Hall), while Jim is more prone to aggression, beating an assistant manager savagely because he suspects he tripped the alarm.
Following the crime, the group needs to be sure the witness won't talk, so Doug follows Claire, quickly learning the emotional ramifications of what they did to her. He shows genuine compassion for her pain during a meet-cute at a laundromat and they begin dating.
Meanwhile, overzealous FBI agent Adam Frawley (Jon Hamm) is determined to put a stop to this dangerous group and begins to put the pieces of the crime together.
From there it's a cat-and-mouse chase of further violence, action and mayhem leading up to a tense ending that had me holding my breath.
Affleck as a director is clear in his aim to make Boston its own character. Shots of the city are alternately beautiful and harrowing, depending on the neighborhood, and the ever-present accents never let us forget where they are.
He's also good at action scenes, getting just enough angles to keep it interesting without confusing us.
As for the performances, Jeremy Renner stands out as exceptionally evil, while Affleck appears sincere and conflicted at the life he's chosen vs. the life that was chosen for him.
Although it's a formulaic good-guy, bad-guy story, with the intent that the audience will root for the redeeming bad guy, I still enjoyed the ride and look forward to see what Affleck will come up with next.