"There are over 300 bank robberies in Boston every year. And a one-square-mile neighborhood in Boston, called Charlestown, has produced more bank and armored car robbers than anywhere in the U.S."
The Town (2010) is a heist film that follows a team of bank robbers in Charlestown, Boston and the law enforcement personnel attempting to stop them.Doug MacRay (Ben Affleck) is not cut from the same cloth as his fellow thieves. Unlike them, Doug had a chance at success, a chance to escape following in his father's criminal footsteps. Instead, he became the leader of a crew of ruthless bank robbers, who pride themselves on taking what they want and getting out clean: himself, James "Jem" Coughlin (Jeremy Renner), Desmond "Des" Elden (Owen Burke) and Albert "Gloansy" Maglone (Slaine). The only family Doug has are his partners in crime, especially Jem, who, despite his hair-trigger temper, is the closest thing Doug ever had to a brother.However, everything changes when Jem takes a bank manager named Claire Keesey (Rebecca Hall) hostage during a robbery. When they discover she lives a few short blocks away from them, Jem gets nervous and wants to check out what she might have seen. Knowing what Coughlin is capable of, Doug seeks out Claire and starts a relationship with her to keep his friend at bay. Claire has no idea the "charming stranger" is one of the men who terrorized her only days before.As his relationship with Claire grows, Doug also wants out of the lifestyle and the town. But with the Feds, led by FBI Special Agent Adam Frawley (Jon Hamm), closing in, and James questioning his loyalty, Doug realizes that getting out will not be easy. Worse yet, his longtime associate and mob contact Fergie "The Florist" Colm (Pete Postlethwaite) may put Claire in the line of fire. Any choices he once had have boiled down to one: betray his friends or lose the woman he loves, concluding with an epic robbery of Fenway Park.The film (an adaptation of Chuck Hogan's book) was directed by Affleck, who also plays the lead character. The film opened in theaters in the United States on September 17, 2010 to rave reviews, with Rotten Tomatoes giving it a "Certified Fresh" rating with 95% positive critical reviews. In addition, the film opened at number one at the U.S. box office with more than $23 million.Not to be confused with the Play By Post Gameof the same name.
This film contains examples of:
Adaptation Distillation: The film removes several elements that were present in the book (most notably Doug's struggle with alcoholism outside of a Continuity Nod in which he attends an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting and drinks juice while the rest of his friends are getting drunk) and changes the ending (which involved Doug being shot by one of Fergie's goons and dying in Claire's arms when Frawley arrives).
Awful Truth: Two of them, in fact. The more obvious one is that Doug was the bank robber, but later we learn the truth about Doug's mother.
Badass Boast: Frawley's entire speech to Doug while he was in custody.
Badass Grandpa: The villainous version thereof. Fergie the Florist is in his sixties at the very least, but still has a very tight grip over The Irish Mob.
Blatant Lies: The dialogue when Doug and Jem are entering the Fenway Park vault disguised as cops.
Doug MacRay: Who called 911?
James Coughlin: Did you guys call 911?
First Security Guard: No one from here called.
Young Security Guard: No we didn't uh... it wasn't us.
Doug MacRay: Who dialed a 911 call?
James Coughlin: It's a robbery guys, come on!
Young Security Guard: You said a robbery?
Doug MacRay: Yeah. A call sayin' you're being held up.
Young Security Guard: Oh, let... let me call Mike.
Doug MacRay: We just walked past Mike! He let us in!
James Coughlin: Hey, look guys, we got a distress call. All right. So, who made the call?
First Security Guard: Nobody called from here.
James Coughlin:[looks at Doug, bewildered] So... no one called. What are we doing here?
Young Security Guard: Hold on. Where's Mike?
Doug MacRay: I just told you where Mike was!
Young Security Guard: You boys see all right? With the uh... [nods to the dark sunglasses that both Doug and Jem are wearing]
Doug MacRay: Huh? Listen, you fuckin' smart ass!
James Coughlin: For our safety, for everyone's safety here, we need to see your ID's. All right?
Beat : When the robbers are wearing nun masks and changing from the Jeep SUV to the stationwagon, they stop when they notice a police officer sitting in his cruiser across the street, looking at them. Both sides just stare at each other for a moment, with the cop torn between doing his job or fleeing with his life, and the robbers hesitating on whether to open fire first. The cop thinks better of it considering the odds and simply looks away, allowing the robbers to flee.
Beauty Inversion: Krista Coughlin, played by Blake Lively, who is often seen disheveled and ratty during the film (and often seen with pimples, cuts or bruises). Which is justified given her background. In sharp contrast to Rebecca Hall's appearance as Claire.
Bittersweet Ending: All the members of crew die except for Doug. Jem commits Suicide by Cop to avoid going to prison. Doug leaves for Florida, but leaves a duffel bag full of money for Claire to find in the garden she tends. At the end, we see him living alone in a house in a Florida bayou, explaining in voiceover that he'll see Claire again someday.
Brief Accent Imitation: At one point while interrogating Doug, Agent Frawley puts on Doug's working-class Boston accent.
Bullet Proof Vest: Doug takes most of a magazine from Fergie at near-point blank range and lives. Whether this is played straight or exaggerated is up to the viewer.
When Doug is grabbed by the overzealous guard during the armored car stickup in the North End midway through, Jem fires a submachine gun at them. Doug seems to survive it quite well again.
California Doubling: Averted. Much of this movie was shot on-location throughout the Boston area.
Career Resurrection: The widely lauded movie is credited with completely restoring Affleck's credibility as an actor, as well as showing his good promise as a director. It also proved that Gone Baby Gone wasn't a fluke.
Casting Gag: Slaine plays Gloansy, and the climax takes place at Fenway Park, where Slaine worked in his teenage years at a concession stand. He reportedly called going back to the place to shoot the robbery "surreal".
Chekhov's Gun: Claire at one point tells Doug how her brother died on a sunny day; she's later able to use this phrase as a code to warn him to stay away from her apartment when the FBI sets a trap for him there.
This was lampshaded in a behind-the scenes extra on the DVD by Titus Welliver (who plays Frawley's partner Dino Ciampa), commenting "There's too much cursing in this movie." Said while Ben Affleck is directing Jon Hamm on the best way for Frawley to say, "Close the fucking bridge."
Cowboy Cop: Subverted. Frawley at times comes off this way, nothing he does violates the law or standard police protocol. He's simply ruthlessly efficient and willing to do whatever's allowed to do his job.
Did Not Die That Way: Doug's mother turns out to have been a drug addict that committed suicide, as opposed to the story that his father tells him.
The Dragon: Fergie's associate, though Doug effortlessly dispatches him at the end.
The Dulcinea Effect: Even though Doug has only known Claire for a couple of weeks, he is still willing to take part in a major heist so that Fergie and his henchman won't kill her as an intimidation tactic.
Fake Irish: Averted in some notable cases (e.g. Ben Affleck has Irish ancestry, which is expanded into Doug's character, and Slaine is outspokenly Irish-American and it is seen in his performance as Gloansy), but mostly played straight.
From a Certain Point of View: When asked by Claire about his father, Doug says that he "finally made it out to the suburbs" which is true, technically, only, he left out the fact that where he is in "the suburbs" is actually the federal penitentiary in Walpole.
Gangsterland: If the statistic in the page quote is to be believed (it isn't), Boston certainly fits. The actual crime statistics on bank robberies in Boston are definitely much lower than 300 bank robberies a year.
Hufflepuff House: Dez, who's got a developed backstory as The Smart Guy in the original novel but is practically a non-entity in the film (Gloansy's characterization is also substantially reduced, but at least he gets a Crowning Moment of Funny in the interrogation room (the "You weren't supposed to get out of the truck. You got him, but who got me? [beat] Courier, get on the ground before I pop your fucking teeth out!" line).
The Irish Mob: Fergus 'Fergie' Colm. Doug's gang, though Irish-American crooks, probably don't count being 'merely' freelance bank robbers.
Jerk Ass: While he has noble intentions, the way FBI Special Agent Adam Frawley goes about his job is a bit over-the-top. His conversations with Krista, where he casually lays out her past in cheerful detail while simultaneously intimidating her, and casually mentions that her daughter is being transferred to Social Services in a later conversation, exemplifies his behaviour.
Karma Houdini: Subverted. Doug escapes and makes it to Florida, but the rest of the crew is dead, and he's alone.
Knight Templar: Agent Frawley will resort to some incredibly nasty means to do his job. However, he always stays within police protocol.
Malevolent Masked Men: Each of the three robberies has the gang using a different sets of masks, no less. The opening bank robbery involves them wearing skeleton masks. The armored car robbery midway through the movie has the gang use rubber nun masks (with veils included). They use a combination of cop uniforms, ski masks, and sunglasses in the Fenway Park robbery.
Missing Mom: Doug's mother, Doris, left him at a young age. He searched all over town for her, but never found out where she was. Later on, Fergie reveals to Doug that he hooked Doris on drugs, which caused her to overdose, and, eventually, kill herself.
Noble Demon: Doug. For being a career criminal he's a very kind and likable guy, and unlike most of the other criminals in the movie, he tries not to hurt anyone during his bank robberies.
Nuns Are Spooky: Doug and his men run the second heist wearing rubber nun masks. Look no further than this page, and happy nightmares.
A fun fact is that the robbery originally had them wearing reverse facial masks, which would have been Nightmare Fuel to the hostages since you couldn't tell whether they were walking towards you or away from you.
Oh Crap: The look on that little boy's face as he catches a glimpse of Doug in the back of the van, wearing a nun mask and carrying an assault rifle, as the robbers' van passes him seconds before the second robbery goes down.
Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Claire is played by English actress Rebecca Hall, and her accent subtlely slips throughout the movie. One example is in the scene where Doug and Claire are on a date and run into Jem. The line "So I've been telling all my friends about you," is clearly said in Hall's native British accent.
Only Bad Guys Call Their Lawyers: Stated as true by Agent Frawley. Semi-lampshaded in that he prefaces it with saying "it isn't a very civil libertarian thing" for him to say, as he's a cop.
Pet the Dog: We figure that Doug's the 'good' criminal when, while Jimmy's screaming at the terrified Claire to hurry up when she keeps flubbing the lock to the bank vault, he puts his hand over hers and gently tells her to breathe deeply and take her time.
Jem himself gets a moment late in the movie when he reveals that a guy he killed (for which, according to Dino, he served nine years for manslaughter on the grounds that "he didn't like the kid") had been planning on killing Doug, and Jem intercepted him en route.
After Jem Coughlin is killed, Frawley looks almost mournful, showing that while he would have stopped at nothing to arrest the man, he didn't want it to come to this.
Paper-Thin Disguise: Played straight with the way Doug and Jem use their cop disguises to escape Fenway Park as the police move in. By using the disguises, they blend in with the real Boston Police Department officers. Jem, however, gives himself away to Frawley by carrying his money bag with him, walking away from the crime scene, and also shooting at Frawley when Frawley calls him by name (although what would happen if he hadn't reacted by shooting when his real name was called is not clear). While Doug manages to escape because he behaves like every other cop at the scene - he draws a pistol and holds it in the same way the real cops are holding their weapons, as if he's just arrived. Plus Doug is not carrying a satchel full of money, so it is easier for him.
Then again, what Doug is intending on is for none of the cops to notice he is not one of their own, which would make sense given that in the midst of the chaos, it might be hard for the cops to tell if one of them might be an imposter.
Precision F-Strike: Gloansy saying, "Now THAT's how you drive a fucking car!" as they race across the Charlestown Bridge after narrowly avoiding a police roadblock, after driving crazily through the streets.
Pseudo Crisis: Inverted. After their second robbery, the team races across the Charlestown Bridge (leading out of the North End across the river to Charlestown) before the police can set up a roadblock or open the drawbridge. When they get across and are sure no one's followed them, they jump out of their getaway van and prepare to torch it...and then they turn around and see a cop staring in wide-eyed surprise at them and their weapons. After a few moments staring at each other, the cop turns his head the other way and allows them to flee.
Reality Is Unrealistic: There were a few complaints about the scene where the lone cop drives off after staring at the four armed robbers, but Affleck based it on an actual event that happened to a bank robber he interviewed in prison. And it was actually quite smart on the part of the police officer to avoid taking on four heavily armed men by himself, and most likely radioed in for help as soon as they were gone.
Red Herring: Even though the scene where Jem finds Doug with Claire at a restaurant is based around Doug being scared shitless because Claire might see Jem's neck tattoo, which she saw during their heist on her bank, it never comes up again, nor does it affect the heroes in any way afterward.
Say Your Prayers, here we go: When they are preparing to ambush the armored car, Gloansy says this to Doug and Jem as a code signal for them to put on their rubber nun masks.
Shout Out: In the extended cut, there is a scene where Doug is watching Heat (specifically, the start of the drive-in movie theater shootout scene) in his apartment. Heat was the source movie that The Town took heavy influence from.
Spanner in the Works: Surprisingly, it's not Claire but Krista who sells the protagonists out at the end.
Shell-Shock Silence: Used to great effect during the Fenway Park shootout, when the SWAT team throws flashbang grenades into the parking garage at Fenway Park.
Slow Motion Pass By: Just after Doug and Jem have put on their rubber nun masks, which also have veils, before the armored car ambush, Doug - sitting in the backseat - looks out his window. The camera promptly overcranks as he locks glances with a young boy on the sidewalk. The boy has a horrified look on his face as he sees Doug ride by, submachine gun drawn. The camera then ramps back up to regular speed as the van speeds up to the street corner, screeches to a halt on the corner, and the robbery unfolds.
Steel Eardrums: Averted, since Doug tells the others to cover their ears after the SWAT team uses the flashbang grenades. Only Dez is Too Dumb to Live, fails to cover his ears, and gets shot by a SWAT officer.
Those Two Actors: Titus Welliver and Slaine were in the previous film that Ben Affleck directed, Gone Baby Gone, which included Ben's brother Casey. Welliver and Victor Garber (Claire's boss) would also appear in Affleck's next film Argo.
Unlimited Wardrobe: Not only does the gang have different outfits and masks for their different heists (as seen throughout the film), but it's revealed that the gang has several different disguises and uniforms for remaining inconspicuous, including police, hospital and MBTA bus driver uniforms. Well Doug does have family who work with the 'T'.