Cast includes: Ben Affleck (The Sum of All Fears), Rebecca Hall (Vicky Cristina Barcelona), Jon Hamm (Mad Men), Jeremy Renner (The Hurt Locker)
Director: Ben Affleck (Gone Baby Gone)
Genre: Crime/Suspense/Drama (2010)
In brief: The town is the Charlestown section of Boston… the bank robbery capital of America. (Some poetic license here.) The film opens with an armed robbery of a bank in Cambridge. The 4 robbers are armed with machine guns and disguised in ghoulish Halloween masks. There’s really no way any of the witnesses could identify any of them… with the exception of one small detail. Claire, the assistant bank manager, is forced to open the vault. When she catches a glance of James from the back, she notices the “fighting Irish” tattoo on the back of his neck. In their hasty escape, the gang takes Claire as a hostage… scaring her half to death, but eventually releasing her unharmed.
Kidnapping is a federal crime, which brings in the FBI. Special Agent Adam Frawley heads the investigation, but there’s very little to go on. The get-away van has been torched… the MO of this gang. And Claire, the best witness, gives them no useful information. In the meantime the gang has Claire’s driver’s license, and they realize they made a big mistake in taking her as a hostage. She lives just 4 blocks away. The chances of crossing paths with her are pretty high. James, the hothead, would like to eliminate her from the equation. Doug would rather assess the threat she poses. So Doug pretends to meet her in the laundromat. Claire is still traumatized by the robbery and Doug finds himself wanting to comfort her. Actually, Claire brings out the best in Doug. Years ago, Doug was something of a local hero… a promising hockey player with a college scholarship. Claire is so grateful for Doug’s kindness that she confesses to him she actually did see the tattoo but was afraid to tell the FBI, for fear of having to testify. “You have a card. There’s nothing that says you have to play it right away,” he tells her. Excellent point. He confesses that he “watches a lot of CSI.”
This is a high-action, suspenseful story with several threads… the FBI investigation, the gang and their crime spree, as well as the relationship between the Doug and Claire. We’re sympathetic toward Doug, even though he’s an outlaw. But these violent criminals need to be stopped. The action, with several chase scenes, takes us on a whirlwind tour of Boston. There is little similarity between chase sequences in Boston vs any other location. Boston is an historic city with many narrow streets and tight turns. Director and lead actor, Ben Affleck, grew up in the Boston area and has certainly demonstrated his knowledge of Boston idiosyncrasies. It gives the film an enjoyable extra dimension. This one is a crowd pleaser… interesting story, good acting, good production.
3 popped kernels
Fun story, well told, pure entertainment. Loved the tour of Boston.
Primary Audience: Young adults
Gender Appeal: Any audience
Distribution: Mainstream wide release
Mood: Neither upbeat nor somber
Tempo: Zips right along
Visual Style: Nicely varnished realism
Character Development: Engaging
Language: True to life
Social Significance: Pure entertainment