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Final Gravity

'The Town' (Extended Cut Blu-ray/DVD Combo)
(Ben Affleck, Rebecca Hall, Jon Hamm, Jeremy Renner, Blake Lively, et al / 2-Disc Blu Ray+DVD / R / 2010 / Warner Bros.)

Overview: Ben Affleck plays Doug MacRay, leader of a Boston bank robber gang but not cut from the same cloth as his fellow thieves. When Doug falls into a passionate romance with the bank manager (Rebecca Hall) briefly taken hostage in their last heist, he wants out of this life and out of the town. As the Feds close in and the crew questions his loyalty, he has one of two choices: betray his friends or lose the woman he loves.

Blu ray Verdict: I have always thought that Ben Affleck's acting skills are mediocre at best. When watching most of his films, my thought would often turn to how the film in question could have been elevated with someone else in the role. That was certainly the case when I saw "State of Play", in which Russell Crowe acted circles around him, or so I thought.

But then I watched "Gone Baby Gone", and started to think that maybe Mr. Affleck's real talent lies behind the camera, not in front of it. "Gone Baby Gone" was a taut, suspenseful thriller that kept me guessing until the end. And with "The Town", Mr. Affleck has proven that he knows his way behind a camera and that his directorial debut was no fluke.

"The Town" takes place in the seedy underbelly of Boston, where the central character Doug McRay has lived his whole life and where he spends his spare time planning and executing bank robberies. At the beginning of the film, Doug and gang succeeds in robbing a bank (in rubber masks) but ends up taking the bank manager (Clare) hostage as insurance against the police.

Even though they released her a short time later, it was soon found out that she actually lived only a few blocks from where Doug and gang lived and hung out. Thinking that he may have seen her around the neighborhood and that she may have recognized him, Doug staged a "chance meeting" with her in order to find out what she knows and ends up developing a romantic relationship with her.

To complicate matters further, his best friend Jem is growing increasingly unstable and have become a loose cannon, shooting people and engaging in other sorts of violence acts without the situation calling for it. With the FBI closing in on them, the woman he likes just one step away from discovering the truth about him, and a friend whose unpredictible behavior may put a lot of people in jeopardy, what is a man to do?

From the surface, "The Town" is an old-fashioned cop drama that we have all see a million times before. What elevates it from the masses, however, is the solid acting, the character-focused plot, and the clean, well-shot action sequences. This may very well be the best performance I've seen Ben Affleck given, and his supporting cast is equally solid. The film boasts of several exciting action sequences, and these were all staged in a way that brought a refreshingness and new perspective to what can otherwise be stale material.

Mr. Affleck also understood the importance of creating 3 dimensional characters that the audience can care about; and it is because you care about what happens to these people that you will be kept on the edge of your seat as the plot unfolds on the screen. Plotwise, the story may be cliched, but the way in which this film was put together certainly was not.

With "Gone Baby Gone", Mr. Affleck has proven that he knows his way behind a camera. With "The Town", it is obvious that he has further improved on his craft. He is no Martin Scorsee, but when it comes to making films with exciting action and likable characters, he is not too shabby ... not too shabby at all. [CY] This is a Widescreen Presentation (2.40:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

Includes theatrical version plus extended cut not seen in theaters
Commentary on both versions by Ben Affleck
Ben's Boston: Actor-director Ben Affleck takes you through the moviemaking process in his hometown. Segments include: The Cathedral of Boston; Nuns with Guns: Filming in the North End; Pulling Off the Perfect Heist; The Town: and more!

www.thetownmovie.warnerbros.com

Available on Blu-ray Combo Pack, DVD, On Demand and for Download 12/17!

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