Ben Affleck proves the excellent Gone Baby Gone was no fluke with this never-less-than-gripping bank-robber saga.
This time around, he directs himself, rather than his more versatile brother, Casey, in the lead role as Doug MacRay, a hardened Boston crim with... wait for it... a big heart. You can tell he's a sensitive villain right from the off when he sweetly whispers "breathe" to Rebecca Hall's bank clerk when holding a gun to her head during a heist. He doesn't want to shoot her, you understand. He's not a killer. However, his deranged sidekick, Jen (Jeremy Renner), most certainly is, and is keen to bump Claire off ("we need to remove her from the equation"); anxious she can in some way identify them to the Feds, led by Mad Men's Jon Hamm (an actor who doesn't seem to fit a modern setting). Doug, to appease trigger-happy Jen, makes contact with Claire, quizzes her and – of course – falls for her. She falls for him, too; rather nonsensically not clocking the robber's voice – "I'm sure I'd recognise their voices," she maintains. But there's no way this romance can run smoothly.
The Town is nicely paced and acted – particularly the charismatic Renner – but some of the action sequences are clumsily orchestrated, its morals are dubious, the dialogue is riddled with clichés ("You're like a brother to me" etc) and it hasn't got the heft of Michael Mann's Heat.