The Town

Lesley and I enjoy many movies together. But there are some movies that we will catch by ourselves. Saturday night while I was working on a sermon, Lesley watched a Renee Zelwegar love story. So, last night, I jumped into a movie I had seen advertised a while back but hadn’t found the time to watch, Ben Affleck’s, “The Town.” I knew the basic plot, he was a bankrobber trying to get out of that life. Stories about people turning away from “the dark side” always catch my eye. I thought it might be like that or it might be like “Point Break” where Affleck is playing the villain just as Patrick Swayze did but there would be a “good guy” doggedly after him (Keneau Reeves in Point Break). I always took note of the movie’s claim that a town beside Boston was the “bank robbery capital of the country.” And, of course, there is a romance as a side story too. So, what was it like?

I thought the movie did a fair job of showing how one could grow up with a different set of moral values than the rest of us. I also thought a brief but realistic showing of how the heroine suffered from PTSD from one of the robberies was good. And the soundtrack and action kept the story moving. And the chief villain, played by Pete Postlethwaite was done well. He frequently plays a bad guy with no redeeming values you want to see taken down.

But, all in all, I had little sympathy for the main character, Affleck’s, or any of his band of un-merry thieves. They are taking what is not theirs and even though he is not, the rest are violent even when they do not need to be to do their thieving. Even a side story about Affleck and another thief going to beat up some gang bangers he suspects of harassing his new girlfriend showed a remarkably limited mindset on how to address problems. And the fact that he can fall in love with one of his victims doesn’t redeem him. He seems to regret being involved in such a life because he knows it will lead to trouble more than he seems troubled at all to be taking other people’s money. So, do you like the “good guys”? Well, they aren’t the Keneau Reeves and Gary Bussey likable cops but they are probably more realistic. It definitely reminds me of men and women I have worked with who put their lives on the line to stop the lawless elements in our society. The part of the movie that I found the hardest to swallow was that as the FBI draws the ring tighter and tighter around the thieves that they plan more and more elaborate and involved robberies. And, although she appears to be the morally best in the movie, the heroine goes down in the end if she keeps the money from the last heist. She would be, in the end, no different from her boyfriend no matter what she did with the money.

I guess “The Town” achieved something few Hollywood movies do. It neither romanticized the thieves or the cops. So, in the end, there is no confusion over who we should root for despite the movie being done from the thieves’ perspective. As a minister, I see little chance of a church or an individual Christian reaching souls like this (even though in one interesting scene, Affleck’s character stops in and listens to people sharing their faith). The “best case” for them is to be caught, incarcerated, and to re-consider their lives. It’s a pretty sad state of affairs if a maximum security prison is one’s best hope for redemption.

And, as a sidenote, Charlestown is not the “bank robbery capitol of the country”. Simply a little Hollywood promo for the film that is made up whole cloth. But the setting of Boston was great. And it is always good to see ol Fenway Park.

I’d give “The Town” a six or seven on a scale of ten.

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