Hey folks, Valkor here. And we're welcoming into the cave, Ben Affleck's directorial debut – The Town. I can't say I've ever watched a bad Affleck film (totally passed on Gigli due to all the bad press), but Armageddon? Jersey Girl? Good Will Hunting? Not bad. The folks at Warner Home know a good thing when they see it, which is why they're taking The Town's theatrical cut, tossing in two additional cuts along with a host of other goodies and extra, putting them all together into one neat package called – The Town: Ultimate Collector's Edition 3 Disc Combo Pack. Some spoilers ahead, though not too heavy.
"The Town" is all about a this little place called "Charlestown", where within its confines, it's known to be a haven of robbers and drug dealers amongst other shady types. And the police can't do much because the townsfolk won't cooperate (wall of silence stuff). Within the town of Charlestown and its neighboring city of Boston, there's a story that takes place – one of love, deceit, comradery, and betrayal. The film starts off with a well executed bank heist, where four masked and heavily armed robbers storm the Cambridge Merchants Bank, drop the guards, take out the video security, rally up the workers (and anyone else inside the bank) and commence to rob it. During the robbery, assistant bank manager Claire (Rebecca Hall) is able to set off the silent alarm, which pisses off one of the gunman who makes a series of mistakes – one of which reveals a tattoo behind his neck, which catches Claire's eye. In response to the alarm being set and the police on the way, the gunmen make haste taking Claire as a hostage, but leave her blindfolded on the beach.
The four gunmen – Doug (Affleck), James (Jeremy Renner), Albert (Slaine), and Desmond (Owen Burke), later regroup to decide what will be done about the hostage; they have her info and they learn she lives right in their own backyard of Charlestown. Doug takes the reins and decides he'll take care of things and has a chance meeting with her at the local Laundromat. This minor meeting blossoms into a full blown relationship complete with Claire telling Doug everything that she's telling the FBI. To add some suspense to the romance, Doug can never tell his brothers of his new found love or else there may be consequences and repercussions.
To complete the picture, the FBI, lead by Special Agent Adam Frawley (Jon Hamm) are zeroing in on Doug and his crew and also lead to believe that in some way Claire may be involved. During this time tensions build as Dug and Claire's relationship grows to heights so great, there is discussion of them leaving Charlestown for good. Jim finds out about Claire, and there's one more heist that needs to be pulled before Doug can call it quits. Or can he?
This Ultimate Collection set, to start, contains three cuts of the film (as mentioned from the start) – theatrical, extended cut (which adds about thirty minutes to the film), and extended cut with alternate ending. And if you've seen the film and you have an inkling of what that alternate ending might be… then you'd probably be right. This is also 3 Disc Combo Pack – two discs are blu-ray and the third is the DVD copy. Topping it off, there's also an UltraViolet digital copy of the film that you can stream on your PC or portable device. Think we're finished? Noooo. Didn't I say this was an Ultimate Collector's Edition? To finish out this set you get a 48 page photo book featuring stills and details of the movie with quotes from Affleck. But the most interesting extra is this manila-like folder stamped "confidential". Inside is a letter from Affleck about why he's releasing the extended cut, a map of all Charlestown with production notes, fighting Irish tattoos, mug shots of the four robbers, an FBI progress report, and an employee personnel record from the company "Vericom". To round things out, on the discs you get commentary by Affleck, and special features "The Town – A Director's Journey", "Ben's Boston", "Real People of The Town", "Nuns with Guns: Film in the Northend", and "Pulling off the Perfect Heist" among other extras..
Now I've watched all three cuts of the film, mistakenly watching the extended cut before watching the theatrical. And I watched them twice. This brings us to the TOV Breakdown, where we ask: Can Ben direct as well as he can act?
The answer is yes with a maybe. I liked The Town, I really liked it. I especially like the extended cut more so than the theatrical, which felt mad choppy. The story has some hiccups, but overall it's a solid, straightforward effort packed with a lot of suspense, a lot of drama, mixing things up with the romance between Doug and Claire, and building up to that climatic ending. If you watch the extended cut, be prepared as the pacing does drag at times, but the story and the characters that encompass it are fleshed out more. As an actor, Affleck performs quite well in this film and as a director he's put together one hell of a film; it was an ambitious effort on his part and I'm glad to see he knocked this one out of the park. There's a lot of action in this flick and I mean some really nice action including shootouts and car chases that will leave you breathless. Okay maybe that's a bit extreme, but daaaaamn is it good! The cast of characters featured in the film make the whole thing seem real, with standout in my eyes going out to Jeremy Renner as Jem/Jim/James; the dude plays crazy so well, it's scary! My favorite scene was where he and Doug were facing off against a couple of Dominicans, after they've finished "scaring" them, Jim continues to beat down one of the guys wanting to know why he pissed off his brother. The dude is brutal. I also love me some Blake Lively, who play's Jem's sister Krista - a banged up, drugged out, and also Doug's side booty. Nice! Finally, I'm giving Mad Men star Jon Hamm a nod as he performs well as Special Agent Frawley. He makes me wanna start watching Mad Men now… maybe. Tossing in all the extras included in this Ultimate box and you have one outstanding set.
I said I liked The Town. I mean I really liked it but I'm not in love with it. First up, I thought the tension building up doesn't pay off as well as I would have liked. I mean Doug having a relationship with the woman he held hostage and keeping it from his robber friends… hmmmm I would have thought it would have ended with more tension. I mean will his boys find out, when and if they do what will happen to him? Or Claire? Well Jem does find out, but the conclusion wasn't as… what's the word I want to use… exciting as I would have liked and it kinda deflates the pic from there. Not that it was any less enjoyable, but I really wanted that tension that I felt from the start. Then we have that silent connection between Doug and Claire. Confused? Well let's start with teh robbery and Claire setting off that silent alarm. We see Doug (or we assume its Doug right? He's wearing a mask) staring right at her. Did he see her, did he not see her? Then there's the verbalage between him and Claire, stuff like Claire saying she would know the robbers if she heard them, yet at times Doug talks exactly like his masked counterpart at times with her. Maybe I just read too much into that, maybe. But when the reveal happens, its something of a letdown; it doesn't have that huge pay off as I would have liked. Again, maybe it's just me.
The Town Ultimate Collector's Edition is available now and it's a solid, ambitious, action packed effort from Affleck and crew that's an instant winner in my book. If you've already seen The Town, then see it again in extended and alternate ending form, plus all the additional goodies make the purchase well worth it. And if you're new to the film, then this is a must see! So, out of TOV 5 stars, I'm giving The Town Ultimate Collector's Edition a 4.5 and it's been Valkor Viewed, TOV Approved!