Thursday, October 16, 2014

The Town (2010)

When I first viewed "The Town" I thought it a terrific film. I was particularly impressed by the action sequences. But that was one viewing, and years ago.

But now after viewing it multiple times I realize that the film is not what it seems to be. Reading the script, specifically, helped me realize this. Because in the script - without the help of multi-million dollar action sequences (such as one extraordinary scene with car-fleeing bank robbers rattling off AK47s into pursuing police cruisers) - the characters and the story are evidently formulaic and bland.

What's interesting is that from unremarkable characters (with the exception of Frawley - the highlight of the screenplay) the acting is above-average amongst the entire cast. Absolutely superb performances come from Jeremy Renner as Jem Coughlin (who turns an unremarkable character into a memorable one) and John Hamm as Agent Frawley.

"The Town" deals with extremely horrifying subject matter; unblinking mass murder in the name of money, the carnage is perpetrated by everyone: criminals, cops, florists. But the subject matter is beautified. Murderous bank-robbers usually aren't as strapping, gentle, or well-spoken as Doug. And Doug's ex-girlfriend Krista - a young single mother who gets high on coke and prescription drugs - is beautiful and coherent? Uh... I don't think they look like that in real life. (And wasn't the actress portraying Krista - Blake Lively - on "Gossip Girl" and "Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants"?? And isn't she a celebrity homemaker who likes to immerse herself in local culture and wants to become a restaurateur and open her own interior decorating company? Yes, I remember now, I saw her wedding reception on "Martha Stewart Weddings". And she also

The characters never face repercussions for their actions (other than getting into thrilling shoot-outs, which they usually survive.) In the end good guy/protagonist Doug evades capture after their harrowing final heist (without a scratch on him), he wins back his gentle, sober girlfriend (who spends her time in the community garden and volunteering at the local Boys and Girls club), and lands a hot new lakeside cabin in Florida. But never shown in the film are the effects of heavy drug use, prison, or violence. No matter how horrendous their actions, the characters face no consequences. I wonder what this is doing, Hollywood relentlessly pumping this no-need-for-responsibility message into young (especially male) viewers on a subconscious level...

Perfect example. Doug is supposedly a gentle, caring guy. At one point he admits to Claire that he hasn't killed anyone. But after that point... between the boys' vicious second nun-masked robbery, and the harrowing finale heist and shootout... Doug and his AK are responsible for a pile of dead bodies. But this is never focused on, nor hinted at.

And at the end of it all... what was the violence for? Well, it's Hollywood. I guess the point is that there is no point.

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