Press Play: Ben Affleck's The Town

Press Play: Ben Affleck's The Town

Dec 15, 2010

This week's must-see DVD/BD, and why we're lovin' it.

What? The Town

Who? Directed by Ben Affleck and starring Ben Affleck, Jeremy Renner, Rebecca Hall, Jon Hamm and Blake Lively

Why? Actor-writer-director Ben Affleck received nearly unanimous praise for this pulse-raising box-office hit about a gang of four professional bank robbers who pride themselves on hitting the Charlestown neighborhood of Boston and getting away clean. Affleck plays Doug MacRay, the leader of the four lifelong friends whose father is a career criminal currently doing hard time. James "Jem" Coughlin (Jeremy Renner) is the closest thing Doug has ever had to a brother and is hotheaded enough to bring the feds down on them.

During one bank robbery, the four masked men take bank manager Claire Keesey (Rebecca Hall) hostage and later let her go. They discover that Claire lives in Charlestown and, worried that she might have information to identify them, Doug follows her, meets her and—to the shock of his buddies—falls in love with her. Leave it to FBI agent Adam Frawley (Jon Hamm) to spoil the romance by using Claire to try to capture Doug, who is always one step ahead of the FBI. Can Doug get away with everything—the loot, his friends and the girl? Don't bank on it.

The Town comes to DVD and Blu-ray in the long-enough 125-minute theatrical version as well as the over-indulgent 153-minute unrated extended cut. The theatrical cut is packed with all the action you need and seems to be the right length to tell this story that is adapted from Chuck Hogan's novel Prince of Thieves.

What the movie really resembles—and what few critics have noticed as they are too busy showering Affleck with accolades for originality—is Set It Off with white guys. Instead of four ghetto black women and lifelong friends who rob banks while wearing masks while one (Jada Pinkett Smith) falls in love with a bank manager, we get four ghetto Irish-American lifelong friends who rob banks while wearing masks while one falls in love with a bank manager. There are more parallels—including the final moments of how it all plays out—so hold off on revisiting Set It Off if you don't want to spoil what is coming in Affleck's white-boy version, which is just as exciting and leaves you rooting for the robbers to go all the way.

What Else? The DVD contains Affleck's commentary on the theatrical version and "Ben's Boston," in which Affleck walks you through the moviemaking process in his hometown. The Blu-ray features Affleck's commentary on both the theatrical and extended versions of the film and has four more exclusive segments of "Ben's Boston."

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