The Town film critique analysis and description

‘The Town’ is a movie about crime, which takes place in the city of Boston. The film focuses on how crime is a major issue in the town where the movie was shot. It also depicts how people engage in crime as a means of obtaining money without having to work for it. The movie is about a group of men who engage in crime, as they believe it is a means to enrich their lives. The movie’s storyline is extremely interesting, as it has made use of many creative elements of the film. The structure of the film is easy to understand as every scene flows smoothly. A person can follow the film even if they did not start watching it from the beginning. The director of the film made sure that the film followed a chronological order, also known as a sequence of events (Goodykoontz & Jacobs, 2011).

The story takes place in the city of Boston, in a town known as Charlestown. There are four friends who have known each other for an extremely long time. The friends are known as Desmond Elden (Dez), Albert Magloan (Slain), James Coughlin (Jem) and Doug MacRay. Most of the people in their neighborhood engage in criminal activities, and they are not spared from this as well. Upon making plans, they decide to rob one of the banks in their neighborhood. Meanwhile, their robbery plan does not go as planned, and they take along with them Claire Keesey the bank manager. They are extremely lucky to escape the bank and evade being captured by the law enforcers (Goodykoontz & Jacobs, 2011). Soon afterwards they release their hostage and unknown to them; she has marked one of the robbers. She clearly remembers that among the robbers, there was one who had an extremely distinctive tattoo. At the end and the beginning of the film, there is a voice narration that makes the audience know some facts about it. Conflict in the film is witnessed when Doug views Claire as an obstacle to achieving his desires. Since the latter has crucial information regarding the robbery, it might jeopardize the gang’s position and freedom. It is extremely ironical that despite Doug not becoming a hockey player, Claire gave the stolen cash to a hockey foundation. The money was spent on an issue that made Doug engage in crime.

The leader of the gang known as Doug suspects that Claire might recognize them and finds a way to be her friend. He disguises his true intentions with her so that he can obtain information regarding the robbery. Their friendship progresses further into a relationship that is a hidden secret from the gang members. Even Jem who is the one with the tattoo and even the best friend to Doug is not aware of what is going on. Claire and Doug begin to know more about each other and one learns that Doug almost becomes a professional in the field of hockey. Claire even tells him about the tattoo that she saw and Doug makes attempts to ensure that she does not report the matter to the police. The relationship between Claire and Doug turns out to be deadly, dangerous, and even romantic. They are not aware of the path that they will take will ultimately dictate their future.

The main characters in this film are Ben Affleck as Doug, Rebecca Hall as Claire, Jon Hamm as the FBI agent, Blake Lively as Krista, and Jeremy Renner as Jem. The other actors in the film with notable roles are Slaine as Gloansy, Chris Cooper as Stephen, among others.  Ben Affleck is known as among the best actors in Hollywood and he does fail to prove this point in the movie. He easily steps into character and one would easily relate some of his other movies. Affleck’s character is known as being a star as he always fits in well in all his movies. Furthermore, his life is of interest to many of his fans who are obsessed with him. Another notable character actor is Blake Lively who is known to assume any role she is given. She easily convinces that she can play the role of a single mother as well as Doug’s former girlfriend. All the actors in the film acted in accordance to realism. This means that they chose to portray the film as being real. Furthermore, Boston is known for many bank robberies and this would pose as one of the many robberies that occur regularly. The audience of this film is extremely thrilled by the acting that has taken place in the film (Ross, 2002).

The characters have proven that they are indeed capable of fitting well into their roles. Anyone who has thought of a gang would probably have the same image as the gang in the film. The gang members live normal life’s when they are not engaging in crime. This is proven by the fact that Claire and Doug had a relationship yet the former had no idea about the latter’s occupation. One can clearly see a difference when the actors are various different scenes. Ben Affleck is one of the directors of this film as well as an actor. Since he had a rapport with the actors, in his character as Doug, directing was made easier. This is because he knows the different scenes more as he is with the other actors when they are playing out their roles. For a long time, Boston has been known for the numerous robberies which take place frequently. The film has been portrayed in a similar manner as if it occurred in real life. The acting is above standards and some actors have been nominated for their superb acting skills. An example is Jeremy Renner who was nominated for awards such as the Academy Award and Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor (Goodykoontz & Jacobs, 2011).

There are various instances whereby its easy to notice that the mise en scene played a great role in enhancing the cinematography. An example of such a scene is when Jem and Doug escape with money while disguising themselves as police officers. After they have obtained the money, they escape in an ambulance while in the form of paramedics. Thus the scenes mise en scene is the ambulance, police uniforms, the cash and money room. They have all been put in strategic locations for the purpose of making the scene flow well. The items make one anticipate what will happen in the scene. For example, the ambulance represents the gateway car, while the cash represents a means of freedom.

Ben Affleck ensured that the film had three heists which took place in a sequence. The heists have been used to show the different turning points in the film. Furthermore, as one watches the film; they notice how the film escalates at various points. One easily finds themselves deeply engrossed and wanting to be part of the film. Some of the words that can be used to describe the opening heist are efficient, brutal and lean. This is because the action which takes place in most parts of the film is introduced. The camera shots have been effectively used to bring about clarity and kineticism. More than half of the scenes in the film are fast motion especially when the gang is involved in crime (DeMaina, 2009). On the other hand, the romantic scenes between Claire and Doug are in slow motion. The latter ensures that the audience is aware of the various scenes and their relevance. The camera used in the film is subjective whereby one can know the emotions of the characters. This is despite them not being present when the film is being shot.

It is evident that there is an effective use of sound in the film. The most notable sound is a dialogue which takes place in most of the scenes. Through dialogue, the film becomes more interesting as one is aware of what is taking place. In the beginning, it is through dialogue that one obtains information regarding what the film is about (Goodykoontz & Jacobs, 2011). Furthermore, there are various sound effects that give more value to the film. Since this film has action, the sound effects make it lively as well as dramatic. When there was a firefight, sound effects were utilized to make the scene dramatic. The film’s narrator is Ben Affleck and he does voice over’s from time to time. This helps in further understanding of what is taking place in the film.

The film’s director displays that he has technical competence in his work as a director. Furthermore, this is the second film of the same genre to be directed by Ben Affleck. His other movie is ‘Gone Baby Gone’, which was directed by him in the year 2007. The film is almost similar to ‘The Town’ in that they both have elements of the crime. Like his other film, the approach used by Affleck in storytelling is nontraditional. The latter is effective in crime and action films to make more interesting to the audience (Stam, 2000). Affleck wants to ensure that the audience knows about the crime in the form of bank robberies which often takes place in Boston. Furthermore, the lives of people, especially that of gang members and their families are known. As the film comes to an end, Doug disappears to Florida while some of the counterparts are murdered. He attempts to show that at any point, something has to an end. In the film, he refers to the gang being disbanded through the available means.

The film is applicable to many aspects of modern society. This is one of the reasons why the film was written and produced for its intended audience. A crime which is a menace in society is shown and how in the end it is disastrous. Greedy people, who do not want to work and obtain money lawfully, will, in the end, pay dearly. They risk losing their lives, going to jail or being on the run as fugitives. Blake Lively’s character as a single mother is one that is common to many young women in the United States. The latter often tend to hang on to the father of their children despite not having a meaningful relationship. The film is rated ‘R’ meaning that is for mature and older audiences. Drug usage and violence are some of the elements that are present. S

Affleck raises some issues which are considered being controversial such as crime and single motherhood. It is a film that addresses the mentioned issues that affect most Americans. The film set is in Boston which is known for its high crimes rates. One wonders if the director wanted to highlight this plight for people to know more concerning issues of crime in Boston.

The film’s genre is a crime drama. It also belongs to the sub-genre of a crime movie. It also has other elements of gangster, romance as well as a thriller. This is the reason why it is referred to as a genre film. It has used filming styles that are suited to making it a crime and dramatic film. The Town fits best in the genre of crime as that is what is present in three-quarters of the film.

Finally, the gang does not exist any longer as the members disappear in different ways. They do not get the opportunity to enjoy the money that they had stolen. Instead, Clair gives the money to charity and thus it seems that it was a waste of time stealing. The relationship between Doug and Clair never materialized as he went to Florida and left her. Affleck wanted to put the paint across that crime does not pay. The result is that the criminals remain suffering and in a state of despair. Through using the formalist approach, it is evident that the film made use of all the film techniques needed to have an enjoyable movie (Stam, 2000). The themes that are evident are Crime, Drug Use, Excessive Violence, among others. The themes bring out the meaning of the movie and make it a film that has to be watched. Indeed, Affleck, as well as his cast, deserve praise for this exceptional film. It is through winning awards that a film’s success is sometimes measured and this applies to this film. It has been nominated for prestigious awards in the movie industry. Some of the film’s critics were not impressed by the role played by Blake Lively; they wished she had a better role like that of Clare.

In conclusion, the film ‘The Town’ is a great film directed and acted by Ben Affleck as well as the other cast members. The film is listed among the best crime films of recent times. It is in the same league as the movie ‘Heat’ directed by Michael Mann. The film deserves more praise as compared to criticism as it has followed most of the elements of excellent films. In the future, other directors should attempt to make films that are of benefit to society as well as being entertaining. Indeed, ‘The Town’ is a movie worth watching as it is interesting, dramatic and mind-blowing.



Goodykoontz, B. & Jacobs, J.(2011). Film: From Watching to Seeing. San Diego, CA:

Bridgepoint Education Retrieved from

Ross, S. (2002). Movies and American society. Malden, MA: Blackwell.

Stam, R. (2000). Film theory: An introduction. Malden, MA: Blackwell.

DeMaina, Daniel (2009). Melrose: ‘Lights, cameras, action’ in a city as Ben Affleck movie shoots locally this month”.  Los Angeles: Melrose Free Press.


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