Left to Right: Claire, Frawley, Doug, Jem and Kris
"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 the Boston neighborhood of Charlestown 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 has become 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 Coughlin takes a bank manager named Claire Keesey (Rebecca Hall) hostage during one robbery. When they discover she lives a few short blocks away from them, Coughlin 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 romantic 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 94% positive critical reviews. In addition, the film opened at number one at the U.S. box office with more than $23 million. It restored Ben Affleck's credibility as a leading actor, and also cemented his abilities as a director, proving that Gone Baby Gone was not a fluke.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; though this ending was still filmed and available on the extended edition Bluray).
Beat: When changing from the Jeep SUV to the stationwagon, Doug and his crew 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 clearly thinking "They're four guys with automatics. I have a tiny pistol. I shoot, I lose," while Doug and the others are hesitating on whether to shoot him, and risk taking extra heat from the Boston Police Department. 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 for most of the movie (and often seen with pimples, cuts or bruises). Which is justified given that she's supposed to be a drug mule for Fergie, in sharp contrast to Rebecca Hall's appearance as Claire.
Bittersweet Ending: All the members of crew die except for Doug. Jem dies from 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, Frawley mimics Doug's working-class Boston accent.
Bulletproof 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. Though he is mortally wounded in the alternate ending where he dies in Claire's arms.
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. So does the guard, although he's clearly wounded.
California Doubling: Averted. Thanks to the 25% tax credit created for filmmaking in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts after the success of The Departed (which had been forced to shoot partially in New York), almost everything you see was filmed on location in Boston. Played straight for an establishing shot, where a shot of City of Angels Medical Center in Los Angeles is used for some reason to represent Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.
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 sequence "surreal".
Category Traitor: Dino is viewed this way by Doug, having grown up in Charlestown but become a cop and used his knowledge of the neighborhood to put other residents of the Town behind bars.
Chance Meeting Between Antagonists: After the armored car robbery, and the very tense police pursuit in the North End, the gang have managed to escape across the Charlestown Bridge before the cops can block it off and are switching cars... only to, in the midst of switching cars for the second time, stop in their tracks because there's a police officer sitting in his car directly across the street, watching them. After a few seconds, the cop turns his head away and decides it's better to just let them continue on their way.
Chase Scene: A police chase through the North End's narrow streets.
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.
Chekhov's Gunman: Early in the movie, Doug and Coughlin beat up a guy named Alex Colazzo for harassing Claire. If you watch the Ultimate Collectors' Edition DVD/Blu-ray combo pack, which has an extended version featuring a second alternate ending (no, not the one where Doug dies in Claire's apartment) that makes the movie end all too similarly to The Departed, Alex reappears to confront Doug and then shoots him.
Cowboy Cop: Subverted. Frawley at times comes off this way, nothing he does violate the law or standard police protocol. He's simply ruthlessly efficient and willing to do whatever's allowed to do his job.
The Dragon: Fergie's associate Rusty, though Doug effortlessly dispatches him at the end.
Drives Like Crazy: Gloansy's skill is as the getaway driver. However, his driving during the police chase in the North End counts as he drives through narrow one lane streets at speeds in excess of 60 mph, and causes multiple pileups to occur while trying to evade the police. And then after they manage to get the police cars chasing them disabled and change cars, he is seen speeding recklessly through traffic to get to the Charlestown Bridge before the police can block it. When they get to the bridge and race across it untouched, he turns to the others and quips, "Now that's how you drive a fucking car!" as they watch the police screech to a stop behind them.
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.
Foreshadowing: When Doug talks to Krista in the bar, the song on the jukebox is "Whatcha Say" by Jason Derulo, about a man who lied to his girlfriend and whose world falls apart when she finds out. Guess what happens when Claire is told by Frawley that Doug is the robber who kidnapped her and released her unharmed.
Free Wheel: There's a point during the police chase where the left front hubcap comes off Gloansy's minivan when it trades paint with a police car.
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 his part of "the suburbs" is actually the Cedar Junction state prison in Walpole.
Gangsterland: If the statistic in the page quote is to be believed (it isn't), Boston certainly fits. The actual FBI crime statistics on bank robberies in Boston are definitely much lower than 300 bank robberies a year. 300 is actually the number of bank robberies throughout the entire Commonwealth of Massachusetts in a year, and that includes not just the ones with guns and gunplay, but also the "clerk stealing from the till" and "man with extortion note" jobs.
Hollywood Law: It's very unlikely that in real life the Boston Police Department would continue their pursuit of Doug's minivan after Coughlin and Doug shoot up two of their cars with their carbines. In real life, the pursuit probably would have ended right there since the rules of pursuit dictate the police not attempt to stop the fleeing vehicle if doing so risks injury or death to the cops or bystanders, a chance that is made more likely when it's in the narrow one-way streets of the North End.
Hufflepuff House: Desmond Elden, 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).
Impersonating an Officer: Doug and Coughlin go one step farther and actually wear police uniforms to rob the cash room at Fenway Park. While their attempt to escape while dressed as paramedics fails due to the FBI SWAT team cornering them, after Gloansy and Des get killed, Doug and Coughlin slip back into their cop uniforms to blend in with a group of real BPD officers that have just showed up. Too bad it doesn't work out for Coughlin when Frawley catches him while he tries to flee with the money satchel on his shoulder.
I Surrender, Suckers: Coughlin with his Suicide by Cop. Surrounded by a firing squad of cops, he announces that he's giving himself up, then leaps from cover with emptied TEC-9s. The police officers respond exactly as they are trained to do and riddle him with bullets, not realizing the weapons are empty.
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 behavior.
Jitter Cam: Done several times during the three action set pieces-the bank robbery, the North End armored car robbery and police chase, and Fenway Park shootout-to make the action much more intense.
Karma Houdini: Subverted. Doug escapes and makes it to Florida, but the rest of the crew is dead, and he's alone. Averted if you watch either of the alternate endings on the extended edition.
Knight Templar: Agent Frawley will resort to some incredibly nasty means to do his job. However, he always stays within police protocol.
Lemming Cops: Averted in the North End car chase. While multiple police cars are totaled either by getting shot up or through pileups caused by tight turns or being forced off course, they're completely working within the bounds of how an actual police pursuit might unfold. Then again, one might probably think the real BPD would call off the pursuit the moment Coughlin began shooting back at them.
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, with black jumpsuits, pants, and shoes. The armored car robbery midway through the movie has the gang use rubber nun masks (with veils included). They use a combination of police officer uniforms, peaked caps, handkerchiefs, and sunglasses in the Fenway Park robbery, with paramedic uniforms immediately afterwards.
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, other than maybe the courier during the armored car robbery halfway through the movie.
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 script states the robbery originally had them wearing reverse facial masks, which meant you couldn't tell whether they were walking towards you or away from you. They probably changed it because that would have been way too creepy for the viewers.
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, in slo-motion, just literally seconds before shit is about to go down a half-block away.
Doug, Jem, and Gloansy's reaction after they complete the robbery. They've loaded the money, and are driving away, they round a corner...and there's suddenly a police car chasing them.
Jem: Fuck. They must have been around the corner! [Gloansy hits the gas pedal]
The look on Fergie's face when he realizes that Doug is about to kill him by blowing his balls off.
Only Bad Guys Call Their Lawyers: Stated to be true by Agent Frawley. Semi-lampshaded in that he prefaces it by pointing out "it isn't a very civil libertarian thing" for him to say, as he's a cop.
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.
Pet the Dog: We figure that Doug's the 'good' criminal when, while Coughlin's yelling 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 murdered in a cemetery at age 18 (for which, according to the police file seen in Frawley's briefing, 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.
The look on Frawley's face when Coughlin decides to make the cops kill him looks almost mournful, showing that while he would have stopped at nothing to arrest a bad guy, he wanted to take Coughlin alive by all means necessary.
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. "Officer" Coughlin 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 "Officer" 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 no one thinks he stands out.
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 there's just been an intense shootout. The FBI SWAT team is engaging what they think are trigger-happy paramedics inside, and the police outside only hear shots, and shoot at both vehicles that try to flee the garagenote The first is the Atlantic armored truck, whose driver tries to flee in the truck when Doug begins shooting through the gun port. He ultimately ends up doing a pirouette and lands on top of some cars in a parking lot. The other is Gloansy's ambulance. He gets shot a few times by a sharpshooter and then the ambulance slams into a mobile command unit. Therefore, no cop can tell just exactly who is shooting at who, other than that Gloansy and Des are offed. The scene is total chaos, such that it might be hard for the cops to tell if one of them might be an impostor. Subverted when Frawley gets tipped off that the other two are posing as cops when he overhears a police captain telling Dino that security said two police officers robbed them. Subsequently, he quickly finds Coughlin in the crowd when he notices an officer walking away from the action with a satchel on his shoulder. Doug gets away because he wears no additional equipment other than what every other cop is carrying.
Precision F-Strike: Gloansy's "Now THAT's how you drive a fucking car!" as they race across the Charlestown Bridge untouched after narrowly avoiding a police roadblock, after some pretty badass driving.
Product Placement: Plenty abound around Fenway Park, but some noticeable ones include a scene where Doug and Claire are clearly inside a Dunkin' Donuts (the scene where Claire tells Doug about the tattoo she saw on the back of Coughlin's neck after he attacked the bank manager). The script even originally had Dez working for Verizon, instead of the fictional cable company "Vericom". A comparison of the script to the actual dialogue shows that every instance of Vericom used to be "Verizon" and was simply switched out.
Pseudo Crisis: Inverted. After their second robbery, the team races across the Charlestown Bridge untouched (leading out of the North End across the river to Charlestown) before the police can either 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 SUV and prepare to torch it...and then they turn around and see a cop sitting in his car across the street, staring in wide-eyed surprise at them and their automatics. After a few moments staring at each other, the cop turns his head the other way and they quickly drive off.
Reality Is Unrealistic: There were a few complaints about the scene where the lone cop turns his head away after staring at the four armed robbers for a few seconds, but Affleck based it on an actual event that happened to a bank robber he interviewed in prison. And considering that Doug and his gang have automatic weapons, and the cop probably only has a pistol at best, it probably saved the cop's life.
When the movie was released to DVD and Blu-ray, two versions were initially available: the 128 minute theatrical cut, and the 145 minute Extended Cut, available on the Blu-ray. The Extended Cut adds 17 minutes of new and alternate footage to the movie. Most of the new footage revolves around Doug and Claire's love story. This is important to the plot (and avoids a dreaded Romantic Plot Tumor) since it further explores the reasons why Doug is trying to leave his former life behind; also, it offers an inside view on victims of bank robberies (and not just the bank robbers or the police who chase them). The problem-which is not at all Affleck's (neither as a director nor as an actor), Rebecca Hall's or the plot's fault-was that there had been too many love stories already. As the Doug and Claire love story is the part of the plot that was shortened the most for the Theatrical Cut, most of the additional scenes from the Extended Cut develop Doug and Claire's relationship a little further. It's important that Claire talks to Doug about the bank robbers from Charlestown, or about her injured colleague. It is also important that the two gangsters (who were badly injured by Doug) get a chance to speak. However, these are the scenes that slow the pacing down a little bit. Nonetheless several other scene extensions and additional footage can be found throughout the entire movie, such as additional scenes (such as a subplot about the gang creating a false trail of red herrings to trick Frawley and other agents into thinking the gang will use a Vericom truck to attack a money transporter in a strip mall parking lot; subsequently, they fall for the trick and only bust a poor decoy who was planted there).
Affleck has stated that while the Theatrical Cut is a close adaptation of the novel Prince of Thieves, the Extended Cut is more true to the book.
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.
At one point, the gang decide to divert the FBI's attention by tricking them into planting a tracking device on Dez's Vericom cable van and having a decoy take it home for the weekend. A few days later, Frawley and his team are monitoring the truck in a strip mall parking lot. Conveniently, there's a boosted Jeep Grand Cherokee a few spaces away. By pure chance, a money transporter then shows up, so the FBI agents jump out of their cars and storm the Vericom van, only finding the poor decoy.
Say Your Prayers: 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 the drive-in movie theater shootout from Heat. 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.
The police chase in the North End features a very accurate portrayal of a PIT maneuver: the police car pulls up alongside Gloansy's minivan, then steers directly into the rear end of the car, causing it to spin to a stop.
The armored car attack and chase also took some basis from a notorious thwarted armed bank robbery in Harvard Square (location of Claire's bank) in 1995 that led to an intense shootout between an armed guard and wounded two of the would-be robbers seriously.
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 action 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.
Averted in the Fenway Park shootout, since Doug tells the others to cover their ears after the SWAT team throws flashbang grenades through a vent. Only Dez is Too Dumb to Live, fails to cover his ears, and gets shot by a SWAT officer.
During the police chase following the armored car robbery, at one point the police cars stop them with a PIT maneuver. An officer is ordering them to surrender on his car megaphone. Coughlin, in the backseat, responds by raising a submachine gun and opening fire through the front windshield to riddle the police car with bullets. In reality, Gloansy, Coughin and Doug should all have temporary hearing loss because of the confined space of the car, but they don't suffer any hearing loss for the remainder of the car chase.
Suicide by Cop: Jem's final fate. Cornered by Frawley and the BPD, he can either go to prison or get shot. He's out of ammo. So he raises his empty weapons and the cops do exactly what they've been trained to do when someone points a weapon at them, and empty their pistols into him before they can realize that he's out.
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. Admittedly Doug does tell Claire he has family who work with the 'T', which explains where he gets the bus driver uniform.