There is something about Boston that makes it rife for serving as the setting for corruption and criminal activity. I always figured Detroit would probably be worse for thuggery, but evidently Boston has more famous former residents. I mean, I guess you could count 8 Mile in Detroit's column, but somehow it just doesn't have the same credibility as a Boston film like The Departed. Ben Affleck's affinity for the city is no secret, especially considering the fact that he grew up in Cambridge and that his first film success, Good Will Hunting, is set at the prestigious Cambridge school, MIT. And so, with these Bostonian credentials under his belt, it is with gusto and adeptness that Affleck approaches the direction of The Town.
Affleck's prior directorial effort, Gone Baby Gone, starring his brother, Casey Affleck, (nepotism was, I'm sure, not a factor in casting) more than proved that the Mallrats actor was ready to up the ante in his professional career. In truth, there are probably far more advocates for Affleck's abilities as a director than for his abilities as an actor (see Gigli, Bounce, and Forces of Nature for potential reasons why). With The Town, it is almost as though two entirely different versions of Affleck are present. His acting is in no way comparable to his directing, an extremely controlled, tightly woven style that is in sharp contrast to the languor of his line delivery.
In casting Blake Lively (who is no doubt eager to break into film in a post-Gossip Girl world), Affleck reveals a certain soft spot for mediocre actors, but then, perhaps there's a method to his madness considering Bostonians from Charlestown probably do act this way (that is, trashy and over the top). Another astute casting decision was Jon Hamm as FBI Special Agent Adam Frawley, although one can't help still associating him with Don Draper every time he gets snarky with someone.
At the core of The Town's story is not a depiction of what the tagline calls "the bank robbery capital of America," but a tale of doomed, fatal love between Doug and Claire (Vicky Cristina Barcelona's Rebecca Hall). The culmination of the film leads us to believe that Claire has felt betrayed enough by Doug's lies to make an alliance with the FBI, but, as with any crime drama worth its weight in script pages, The Town gives us an unexpected--and despondent--denouement to the outcome of Doug MacRay's tumultuous life in The Town.