“It’s Heat meets The Departed!” shout the TV ads, forgivable marketing puffery that the entertaining but chronically hackneyed The Town can’t possibly begin to live up to. There are certainly traces of both, as bank heists that spill onto daylight streets with deafening automatic weapons will now always be assumed nods to Michael Mann’s classic. And director Affleck no doubt hesitated before setting yet another crime movie on Boston’s hardscrabble white streets following his previous movie, the similar Gone Baby Gone, not to mention the Scorsese picture.
But the fact is, of the slew of modern Boston crime films, The Town, with its story of two criminal friends seeking opposite paths, an imperiled father-son relationship, and a bland romance, most closely resembles 2008’s ignored What Doesn’t Kill You. I championed Brian Goodman’s small movie in Reverse Shot because it overcame this potentially drab blueprint with understated acting and resourceful action scenes. The Town, too, has moments, though fewer, during which you forget its generic nature, but because of its celebrity director and the presence of a Mad Men hunk and a Gossip Girl, it’ll receive far more attention than What Doesn’t Kill You, which has been forgotten (even despite my championing!). Read Justin Stewart’s review of The Town.