Above Average Heist Movie, 19 October 2010
Author: gary-444 from United Kingdom
An above average “Heist” movie confidently directed by Ben Afleck who also takes the lead. Set in Boston, Affleck plays a career bank robber, Doug Macray, from the run down district of Charlestown, which is home to the criminal fraternity in general, and bank robbing aficionados in particular. The generous running time of 125 mins contains only three raids because, wisely, the story based on the Chuck Hogan novel “Prince of Thieves”, concentrates on character rather than action and takes time to enjoy the location sets in Boston itself.
Charlestown is a tight knit community to which Affleck’s gang return after a brilliant, visceral opening Bank raid. To English ears, the dialogue is sometimes mumbled and difficult to follow, but when a hostage is freed who it emerges also lives in Charlestown, the plot bites as MacRay starts to date the hostage and is easy to follow. Time worn themes of criminal codes of honour, redemption, justice and revenge are explored with a blue collar authenticity which just begs Bruce Springsteen to step out of the shadows at any time.
Rebecca Hall as Claire skilfully unfolds the role of bank official turned unwitting girlfriend ,delivering a compelling, but understated performance even though her own back story is somewhat under written. Pete Postlethwaite is wonderful in a cameo as the local godfather in a ballsy performance, in every sense of the phrase.
No such story would be complete without the Cop determined to bring the hoodlums to justice and John Hamm is convincing as FBI agent Hawley whose task in racking down the offenders is not that difficult. Why both he and McCray have to sport unshaven beard growth is never quite explained.
A gripe is the Hollywood obsession with over the top shoot-outs. Although the opening bank raid, and subsequent security van raid are brilliant, the finale at the Boston Red Sox ‘ Fenway Park becomes ridiculous and unconvincing, and is wholly unnecessary to a well plotted story. Fortunately an action free, but engrossing and satisfying denouement save the story from the ridicule it risks at Fenway Park.
Strong, and atmospheric, with several nods to “Heat” this movie succeeds and delivers in spades suggesting that in the future Affleck will make a film that scores excellent, and not just the “very good” plaudits which this story has rightly been credited with