Charlestown, Mass., known to the locals as "The Town," has a dubious reputation for producing an unusual number of bank robbers including Doug MacRay ( Ben Affleck).
MacRay is the calm, cool mastermind of a crew of thieves with a track record of hitting fast and getting away absolutely clean. Things change when James Coughlin, the hot head of the gang, takes a hostage after a particularly close call while knocking over a bank.
Coughlin (Jeremy Renner) is the closest thing Doug MacRay has to a brother, so even though he's spooked by his friend's hair-trigger temperament, MacRay remains loyal.
So, what happened to their hostage? Rebecca Hall stars as Claire Keesey, a mid-level bank manager who was forced to open the safe. Assuming she knows nothing and can't identify them, the gang releases her. But, something about Claire has gotten under MacRay's skin and he looks for opportunities to keep an eye on her.
Eventually they actually meet and a relationship begins to unfold. When Coughlin discovers that his friend is involved with the only person who could finger them, while a relentless FBI agent (Jon Hamm) is breathing down their necks, he gets even sketchier.
"The Town" is a smart, well executed film that totally engages. The layers of this movie dig into the characters and the environment in which they live. Affleck not only delivers a compelling character, but as the film's director, he delivers a compelling story.
There isn't a weak performance anywhere. Even those who get relatively little face time really deliver, like Pete Postelthwaite as a local florist/gangster and Chris Cooper as MacRay's imprisoned father. They are wonderfully chilling.
I'm giving "The Town" three stars, but be aware that it's a rough watch and carries an R rating for good reasons.