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Town, The (Blu-ray Review)

30 Dec, 2010 By: John Latchem

Box Office $92.1 million
$28.98 DVD, $35.99 Blu-ray
Rated ‘R’ for strong violence, pervasive language, some sexuality and drug use.
Stars Ben Affleck, Jeremy Renner, Rebecca Hall, Jon Hamm, Blake Lively, Titus Welliver, Pete Postlethwaite, Chris Cooper.

As a heist film, The Town plays like a Boston-set version of Michael Mann’s Heat, yet without the superstar cast or superfluous subplots. It also comes across as an excuse for some filmmaking indulgence on the part of writer-director-star Ben Affleck, who manages to insert himself into different love scenes with two hot actresses and set most of the final act at Fenway Park, home of his beloved Red Sox.

That’s easy enough to overlook in what is otherwise a smart, engaging and tight thriller, carried well by Affleck and punctuated by a strong supporting performance from Jeremy Renner. The pair play partners-in-crime who engage in elaborate bank robberies on behalf of a local crime lord (the always-intense Pete Postlethwaite) known as The Florist. When a bank manager (Rebecca Hall) trips a silent alarm on their latest job, James (Renner) takes her hostage. When they discover she lives in their Charlestown neighborhood, Doug (Affleck) sets out to discover if she knows anything that can identify them to the intrepid FBI agent (Jon Hamm) on the case. He winds up falling for her, which obviously complicates everything even more.

The Blu-ray contains both the theatrical version and an extended cut that runs 25 minutes longer. In addition to the usual assortment of character scenes added back in, this cut also includes alternate versions of scenes that were later re-shot for clarity and concision. It’s nice to have this version available, but the theatrical cut is the preferred version (the digital copy is of the theatrical cut).

The Blu-ray also includes an array of featurettes about the making of the film, and a good commentary with Affleck explaining his vision of the film (an adaptation of Chuck Hogan’s novel Prince of Thieves) and his filmmaking choices. This commentary in tandem with the extended cut offers a nice primer for prospective filmmakers and anyone interested in the process of carving a two-hour piece of entertainment from the years of work involved in putting it together.

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