I'm not fond of bank heist flicks. What's there to enjoy when the arc of the story is, more often than not, predictable? They rob a bank, they either escape, get caught, or get killed. The end. But there's been several heist films shown in Manila recently: Nimrod Antal's disappointing "Armored", Benjamin Heisenberg’s compelling thriller-drama, “The Robber” (Germany/Austria) shown at the recent Cine Europa; and this week, Ben Affleck's "The Town". If you've seen the trailer, the story's easy to follow.
A bank robber (Ben Affleck) gets infatuated with the bank manager (Rebecca Hall) from an earlier heist. As he thrusts himself for her affection, an FBI agent (Jon Hamm) is meticulously tracking their trail. When Doug (Affleck) finally decides to turn over a new leaf, the big bosses wouldn't let him. He has to complete a final heist to avoid intimidations involving an ultimatum that threatens Claire's (Hall) life.
The film takes a lengthy exposition, running for more than 2 hours, but the pacing is brisk, you hardly notice the time. More importantly, the story is deftly told in brilliantly written characters that are able to carefully convey motives. The performances are top notch, from the conflicted Ben Affleck to the sympathetic Rebecca Hall; from the efficient Jon Hamm and affection-hungry Blake Lively to the volatile Jeremy Renner (after all, he wouldn't be nominated for an Oscar in "The Hurt Locker" if he was mediocre).
To keep this short and sweet, "The Town" is an unexpected pleasure.