Hey, folks, I'm in the mood to post this, so here I am. I recognize the fact that most people really like Ben Affleck's most recent movie, The Town, and I would've wanted to like it, too, but imho, there's too much wrong with The Town for me not to look at this film with much harsher judgement and a much more critical eye than many, if not most people.
I admittedly liked Ben Affleck a lot in Good Will Hunting. He and Matt Damon also did a great job working together in this particular movie. Good Will Hunting is a good film that really worked. However, I think that Ben Affleck fell badly on The Town, and part if it is probably due to the fact that he took on two jobs; directing and playing the lead character.
Imho, The Town is an overrated, cheesy piece of junk that's more like a feature-length made-for TV soap opera than a regular movie, which never, ever should've made it into the cinemas at all, in the first place. Yet, I realize that, in order to get the democratic society that we all long for, different viewpoints have to be aired, no matter how much at odds they may be with each other. .
The cast is mediocre at best, the plot and story are overused, the Boston accents, especially on the part of Ben Affleck, are forced and way overdone, and the chemistry between Doug and Claire is non-existent to paltry, at best. One of the most, if not the most bothersome aspects of The Town is the message that it clearly conveys; People don't have to be accountable for their actions and behaviors; that it's okay to steal and rob innocent people of money that they don't deserve to lose, to terrorize, permanently maim, put innocent bank employees and customers' lives and safety at risk, to abet an armed felon and wanted fugitive (Doug MacRay, the ringleader)to escape the law by getting involved romantically with him, allow him to buy expensive Tiffany diamond necklaces for one, and make utter dupes of law enforcement people who've been assigned to bring guys like Doug MacRay to justice and end their robbery careers once and for all, by lying to the Feds, and tipping an armed felon and wanted fugitive (Doug MacRay) off to them and helping them escape, and that it's okay to take the law into one's own hands and to kill a couple of people just because they threatened to do Heaven-knows-what to a girlfriend, or whoever. I think it's totally wrong.
Oh, and why is it okay for good-girl Claire to receive stolen goods and spend that ill-gotten money on the renovation of a seedy hockey rink and dedicate it to her criminal boyfriend's mother who she never knew, instead of arranging to turn it into the police anonymously?
Hey...come on! Doug put the romance moves on Claire when he met her, in order to shut her up and warn her oh, so subtely not to talk to the Feds or else! One's supposed to think that Doug really loves Claire and is attracted to her by her winsome personality, but nothing could be further from the truth, imo. He found Claire attractive, in that she was clearly vulnerable after being traumatized by him and his guys after they held up her bank at gunpoint, and therefore quite gullible and open to exploitation. Almost as soon as Doug got what he wanted out of Claire (a promise not to go to the cops or the Feds), he left the money in her garden and skipped town for Florida, because he was on the lam from the law and couldn't elope with Claire and exploit her as a bargaining chip, the way he'd wanted to do. Yet, there's another reason why Doug left Claire behind when he skipped town for Florida instead of taking her with him; Doug's days of hiding out down in Florida in a house overlooking a bayou were numbered, that sooner or later he'd be hunted down and caught, perhaps violently, by the Feds, and at some level, both he and Claire must've known that. It was especially obvious when FBI Agt. Frawley said to Claire "You know the FBI is a national organization", and then requested that the descriptions and photos of Doug MacRay be circulated. Isn't it funny how the vast majority of people, either naively or in willful ignorance, miss all of the above!
It's funny how most people don't realize that Doug was a sociopath who totally exploited the women in his life; Krista for sex, and he left her with nothing, even though he knew she had a young child to take care of (who might or might not be Doug's), and Claire, who he thought he could elope to Florida with, but could not, after having charmed her into trusting him and then worming his way into her heart so that she'd shut up and not talk to the Feds. One is supposed to sympathize with both Doug and Claire, but, in reality, neither of them deserved any sympathy.
Imho, when the Feds had Claire and Doug meet at her Charlestown condo in a last-ditch effort to nab Doug MacRay and send him off to a Federal penitentiary for his crimes, the Feds should've made Claire keep her big fat trap shut, not call Doug or answer any of his phone calls, and let them do their job of arresting Doug and bringing him to prison for his crimes. Doug deserved to end up in a federal penitentiary for his crimes, and Claire deserved to be criminally prosecuted herself, or at least put on some sort of probation for abetting Doug and for receiving stolen goods (Doug's illl-gotten heist money).
I'm sorry, folks, but I cannot bring myself to be sympathetic to either Doug or Claire, who, imho, turned out to be the most dislikable, and annoying characters in The Town. I also think the fact that Claire quit her job as a bank manager after the robbery without telling anybody, including the Feds, is also rather suspicious. What most people don't realize is that Doug is an armed felon and wanted fugitive who's on the lam from the law, so he's not going to Florida on vacation. Happily, there's no way that he and Claire will ever meet again, which is what the final "I'll see you again, this side or the other" sentence in Doug's "goodbye, I'll always love you" letter to Claire before he skipped town for Florida means, but the fact that Claire didn't turn to Frawley for help after learning the truth about Doug and reallzing that she was in over her head, is beyond stupid, and wrong.
The fact that Doug and Jem beat the crap out of two Dominicans from a housing project who'd supposedly thrown bottles at Claire when she'd been stupid enough to walk by herself through a housing project (no woman in her right mind would do that, at any time of night or day) and permanently cripple them, especially since they didn't even tell the two Dominicans why they are beating him up, shows that underneath that smooth, sweet-talking, gentle veneer of his, Doug, as well as Jem, is a man of unprovoked violence, and more like his incarcerated father (who, btw, is serving several life sentences in MCI-Cedar Junction for bank robbery and murder) than he would've liked to admit. My, my...Lady Claire must've felt flattered that two armed felons who were also wanted fugitives from the law came to her defense! Pretty sickening, this whole thing.
This is something that still continues to dog me, even though I've written about it so many times. Why, oh why do so many people fall for such a hyped-up, cheap, overrated, trashy movie such as The Town, and, more to the point, refuse to accept dissenting opinions on it? It beats me...I don't know!
I admit to one thing, however: The Town left me rooting for the cops and the FBI, especially Agt. Adam Frawley and wanting them to catch Doug MacRay and his men and send them to jail for their crimes, and to have Claire either criminally prosecuted herself for being an accessory to Doug's crimes and for tipping him Doug off with a "sunny days" code and enabling him to elude the law, or at least put on some sort of probation for her BS. Sure, I sympathized with Claire at first, because she was the victim of an armed bank robbery, which wasn't her fault, but I completely lost my sympathy for her when she not only got involved, wholesale, in a romance with Doug, but refused to sever all contacts with him even after she learned through Agt. Frawley who Doug MacRay really was, and what he was up to.
Unlike most people, who are sympathetic with Ben Affleck's character in that film, and with Claire, I am not.
Why should I be sympathetic to either Doug or Claire? The idea that Doug MacRay wanted to change and redeem himself through Claire is utter bullshit, especially after he engaged in an act of vigilantism by taking the law into his own hands, going back to Charlestown, and gunning down Rusty and Fergie just because they threatened Doug's ladygirl Claire with physical harm. Come on now! Doug MacRay's still a criminal and he was not the decent guy he came across as when he and Claire met "by chance" in a C-Town laundromat.
Doug MacRay, like his friends and partners in crime, are not only skilled, disciplined and ruthless in their quest for quick money through parasitic behaviors such as armed robbery, and who'd unquestionably kill or seriously injure people enough to put them in the hospital if they're considered obstacles to what they want, but Doug knows how to come across as a nice guy, when he's really not. He may not be crazy like his best friend and righthand man, Jem, but he's a sociopath and a person of unprovoked violence just the same.
The fact that he came across as such a nice, charming guy and deceived Claire by pretending to be an upstanding, law-abiding citizen, when he's really not, is more than disgusting...it's part of his criminal behavior. As for Claire, the fact that she took Doug's bait and rose to it is pathetic indeed. If Doug had really wanted to change, imo, he would've turned himself and his guys in, come forward, negociated with the Feds for some protection for him and Claire, and stopped robbing banks once and for all. Doug left for Florida without Claire for two reasons:
A) Doug macRay was an armed felon and wanted fugitive who'd been on the lam from the law for quite awhile, plus he'd just killed Fergie and Rusty.
B) Doug had gotten what he really wanted out of Claire all along; a promise from her not to turn him in, which he got.
How can so many people be so naive or willfully stupid as to miss that?
Also, if Doug wanted to redeem himself, he would've come forward, served his time, and
after a prison term, found honest ways to raise the funding for the renovation for the C-Town hockey rink himself, instead of using Claire Keesey as a go-between. What people don't realize is that Doug wasn't a nice guy...even to Claire, even though most people firmly believe that. The fact that he deceived her, seduced her and made a total fool out of her was vicious. The fact that Claire acted like a poor, confused adolescent and allowed herself to be manipulated, made a fool out of and taken advantage of by Doug is pitiful, but she doesn't deserve pity, due to the fact that she helped the very same guy, who'd turned her life upside down and caused her a ton of grief in the first place, to elude the law.
As for Jem's drugged-addicted, alcoholic sister, Kristina, well, I don't like her sordid lifestyle or behavior (drug and alcohol addiction, sleeping around with too many men, and the fact that she was in the business herself by helping to book hotel rooms and get costumes for Doug and his men, and being a drug mule for Fergie and Rusty), but i'll say this: I feel kind of sorry for Krista, in a way, because she had far fewer choices than Claire; she'd grown up with Doug and Jem, who, like many other men, abused and exploited her for their own ends, and she had neither the money or the resources to get out of that lifestyle and environment. Krista's daughter, Shyne, still an infant, caught in the middle of this mess, was innocent, and I felt sorry for her, too.
I'm so sick of people saying that what the white collar criminals (not defending them, btw) are worse than guys like Doug MacRay and his gang, because it's unrelated, and not true.
Neither the book Prince of Thieves, on which The Town was based, or the movie, make any effort to get at causes of bank robbery and other crimes, and the circumstances under which Doug and his men had grown up under. Moreover, the movie asks the audience to sympathize with Doug MacRay and his men, as well as Claire, who acted stupidly enough to allow Doug to take advantage of her, and who became an accessory to his crimes, while considering law enforcement officials assigned to bring criminals like MacRay and company to their knees and have them locked up in penitentiaries once and for all.
Dez was a smart (he was college-educated and had a regular job) but stupid guy; he was pretty much just along for the ride, and did what he was told to do by the gang, and yet, at the same time, he seemed to be pretty much their victim, as well, if one gets the drift. Dez allowed himself to be taken for a ride, also. At least the book fleshes out the characters and spends more time on Dez and Krista, and doesn't focus on the viewpoint of Doug and Jem so much, plus the book takes a far less sympathetic outlook towards Doug and his men.
I also might add that The Town also normalizes the Stockholm Syndrome and its inverse, the Lima Syndrome. One doesn't have to be in any of the helping professions (i. e. psychiatrist, psychologist, social worker, etc.) to realize that, while a person who's taken hostage and falls victim to the Stockholm Syndrome (i. e. falling in love with her captor) or the Lima Syndrome (i. e. accepting the overtures of her captor, who falls in love with her), presumably has a better chance of survival in a hostage situation, the victim, in either case, is turned into a person who is at her captor's beck and call, is manipulated and controlled by him, and is essentially brainwashed into believing that her captor cares enough about her not to kill her, and that he'll always treat her kindly and not abuse her. This couldn't be farther from the truth, especially because, all too often, the victim is isolated from her friends and loved ones, and begins to blame law officials and other authorities for her troubles and turn against them rather than her captor who committed this criminal act against her in the first place.
That being said, I'd say that common sense is required, in order to at least minimize the possibility of having something like that happen to him or her; Just because one meets a charming guy or gal, doesn't mean that they're necessarily out for any good, particularly if one is in an area that's known to be tough, with a violent history to it. Anybody who meets someone that they've never seen before, no matter where they are, or how charming they may be, should be much more careful, and not be so quick to accept dates with someone or get into things with people they don't know that well.
Claire was a woman who used no common sense what. so. ever, and she ended up having a breakdown when it finally backfired on her. Hey...if I'd known her in real life, I'd tell her.."Hey..don't you understand that if you play with fire, you're going to get burned? Think about that!"
Supposed the bank manager hadn't been as angelic-looking as Claire, or had been someone with a learning/developmental disability such as autism, Aspergers, dyslexia, ADD/ADHD, or a seizure disorder? Do you honestly believe that Doug and his men would've even acted the least bit charming and sympathetic towards her? I don't think so. Doug would've allowed Jem to do whatever he wanted with her, and she probably would've been gang-raped or "offed" by Doug and his posse of armed criminals. Don't kid yourselves, guys! Doug, contrary to how he came across to Claire, wasn't a nice guy, even to her. He was playing her, and anybody who thinks that Doug and his men wouldn't have killed her if she'd resisted and refused to comply with them is just kidding themselves.
Sorry, folks, but I can't bring myself to like this film, except for the very beginning, with the aerial and ground shots of Boston's Charlestown section, and the opening bank heist, but The Town went from being okay to being just plain bad…in a matter of minutes.