The Town

photo 2010 is finally starting to look up. It’s only taken until September.

So far, this year’s quality cinematic offerings have been paltry, to say the least. With the exception of Toy Story 3 and Inception, there really hasn’t been much to write home about. Until now.

The Town is a gripping, fast-paced, energetic and heartfelt movie about bank robbers. Yeah, you probably think you’ve seen it all before—and you have—but The Town is entertaining enough to make you want to hear this story again. The Town is Ben Affleck’s second directorial credit and, like his first, Gone Baby Gone, it is set in Boston and the city bleeds all over this film, as Affleck wears his Boston heart on his sleeve, much to the film’s benefit. This film is brimming with authenticity, from the Boston location shoots all the way to the pitch-perfect accents. This realism truly sustains the film, for it allows the characters to just breathe and be because we already know who they are before they utter a word.

Affleck himself plays the lead here, as a lifelong bank robber who comes from bank robber stock, and surrounds himself with bank robber buddies. But, of course, he has a semblance of a conscience and is the prototypical bad-guy-with-a-heart-of-gold. Of course, where there’s the good guy, there’s always the bad guy, and this one is played by the phenomenal Jeremy Renner, who delivers another strong performance after last year’s star-making turn in The Hurt Locker.

Despite a seemingly clichéd setup, The Town still manages to feel real and never forced. Yes, there’s absolutely nothing original here, but what makes it work is the fact that it truly has it all. It’s part action movie, part suspense thriller, part love story, part character study, part redemption tale and part detective drama. Affleck mixes them all together brilliantly and never leaves anything abandoned, but doesn’t force-feed you anything either. It’s just a solid, well-made movie.

Affleck and Renner are assisted by wonderful performances by some of Hollywood’s best actors, including Chris Cooper, Jon Hamm (in a very un-Don Draper performance) and the absolutely wonderful Pete Postlethwaite. Every movie should have a little Pete Postlethwaite in it.

The Town may not win any awards for originality, but what it lacks in imagination it completely makes up for in effort, talent and believability. But I do have to issue a warning to any Boston Red Sox fans out there like me: this may hurt a little.