It’s clear Ben Affleck has particular taste in the movies he directs. Crime dramas set in Boston with lead actors named Affleck. In 2007 it was “Gone Baby Gone,” and this year he returns to his role of writer/director with “The Town.” It’s a story that reminds of crime caper films of the past. Affleck stars alongside “The Hurt Locker’s” Jeremy Renner as small town bank robbers extremely eager and apt for their next job. Their operation becomes more complicated when Affleck involves himself with a witness, and an FBI Agent played by Jon Hamm begins to figure these beantown badboys out. It has all the trappings of a cat and mouse crime movie, and the relationship between Affleck and the withness (played by Rebecca Hall) provides suspense and tension when the heists aren’t going down. But when they do go down, your blood pumps rooting for them. Like “Gone Baby Gone,” the cast here is deep. Aside from the three stars, Blake Lively and Chris Cooper show up in supporting roles, and Titus Welliver (who will always and forever be The Man in Black to me) is the only carry-over from “Baby.” It’s hard to hold “The Town” in the top tier, as the film shows signs of brilliance, but for some reason, it doesn’t all add up to something breathtakingly great. There are terrific scenes rich with dialogue and/or action, spectacular aerial shots of Boston, and spot-on humor when you would least expect it. “The Town” is a solid, satisfying, highly recommended movie, but not great one. It’s a little difficult to take Hamm seriously as the hard-ass FBI agent, and it’s even harder to understand everything that comes from of Affleck and Renner’s thick Boston tongues. There’s no doubt that, as a writer/director, Affleck sticks to his guns. “The Town” may be his best ode to Boston yet, but it feels far more like an improved variation than a truly great movie.
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