The Charlestown neighbourhood in Boston is a notorious home for bank robbers, and Doug (Affleck) leads fiendishly efficient heists with his brother-like pal Jem (Renner), driver Albert (Slaine) and techie Des (Burke). But Jem's trigger-happy temper almost undoes the last job when he briefly takes bank manager Claire (Hall) hostage. To make sure she's not going to turn them in to tenacious FBI Agent Frawley (Hamm), Doug gets to know her. And of course falls in love, finally seeing a way out of this dodgy life.
Based on a novel by Chuck Hogan, the plot may be similar to Michael Mann's Heat but the film is much more intimate, focussing so tightly on the relationships between the characters that action scenes feel almost like distractions. But the two big set pieces (a gritty car chase and a desperate gun battle) are both extremely well-staged, and will keep genre fans happy. Demanding viewers will enjoy the jagged interaction even more.
Meanwhile, Affleck delivers a magnetic central performance as a man trying to break the generational pull of crime that saw his father (Cooper in a scene-chewing cameo) end up behind bars. But breaking free of the local mob boss (Postlethwaite) or his needy ex-girlfriend (Lively) isn't easy. And Affleck's scenes with both Hall and Renner give the film a kick of bracingly honest emotion. While Hamm gets the chance to cut loose, grabbing the big screen with real intensity.
On the other hand, the dialog often feels overwrought as everyone tells stories about their own life experiences. This is great for the actors, and it adds texture to each character, but it locks much of the film in conversations rather than narrative motion. It also perhaps leaves us with characters who aren't as shaded as they seem. But the performances more than make up with this, and the raw relationships make the film thoroughly engaging, putting us in the shoes of these people as they make moral decisions that go against their natures.
Run time: 125 mins
In Theaters: Friday 17th September 2010
Box Office USA: $92.2M
Box Office Worldwide: $154M
Distributed by: Warner Bros. Pictures
Production compaines: Warner Bros., Legendary Pictures, GK Films, Thunder Road Pictures
Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 94%
Fresh: 200 Rotten: 13
IMDB: 7.6 / 10
Director: Ben Affleck
Screenwriter: Peter Craig, Ben Affleck, Aaron Stockard
Starring: Ben Affleck as Doug MacRay, Rebecca Hall as Claire, Jeremy Renner as James Coughlin, Jon Hamm as Adam Frawley, Blake Lively as Krista, Slaine (George Carroll) as Albert 'Gloansy' Magloan, Owen Burke as Desmond Elden, Titus Welliver as Dino Ciampa, Pete Postlethwaite as Fergus 'Fergie' Colm, Chris Cooper as Stephen MacRay, Dennis McLaughlin as Rusty, Corena Chase as Agent Quinlan, Brian Scannell as Henry, Kerri Dunbar as Henry’s Girl, Tony V. as Vericom Crew Chief, Stephen Bishop as Derrick
Writer-director Christopher McQuarrie brings a dark and gritty tone to this larger-than-life franchise. Along with...
With a spectacular setting and two solid actors on-screen, this thriller builds enough solid suspense...
Those bright sparks at Pixar have done it again, taking a fiercely original approach to...
Slick direction and meaty performances may be enough for some viewers, but this boxing drama's...
Loose and impressionistic, this beautifully shot film traces the career of a DJ who pioneered...
Without a single moment of originality, this found-footage horror movie really deserves to be the...
An intriguing premise keeps the audience gripped for about 20 minutes before the movie runs...