The Town

The Town

**1/2

Writing this column is my favorite job without a doubt. It isn’t quite enough to pay the bills, though.

For my day job, I take phone calls for the fraud department of a major credit card company. It’s even less exciting than it sounds, I assure you.

Card holders always have the same questions for me when I am taking their fraud claim: who did this? How did they do it? Why did they do it?

I always give the same answer: I don’t know!

I wouldn’t spend 40 hours of every week talking to people about their credit cards if I had the knowledge and the inclination to commit lucrative acts of fraud.

But I don’t. I have absolutely no idea how thieves learn the best ways to steal lots of money or what motivates them to make a living in such a dangerous and immoral way.

I was hoping that “The Town” would teach me. Not teach me how to steal, of course. But at least show me what goes on in the minds of thieves.

Ben Affleck stars as Doug MacRay, a career criminal from the blue collar Boston neighborhood of Charlestown. In the opening credits, we learn that Charlestown, MA produces more bank robbers than any place in America.

And that’s why Doug robs banks for a living even though he is a seemingly reasonable, even-tempered adult. It’s the family business. It’s what his jailbird father did and it’s what he was raised to do.

“The Town” follows a few months in Doug‘s troubled life, as he recklessly commits some daring robberies and even more recklessly begins dating the key witness to one of his crimes.

Ultimately, I didn’t like “The Town.” And I’ll bet the Charlestown Chamber of Commerce didn’t, either. Despite the fact that we spend the entire movie following the character, we never really learn what motivates Doug to continue with his foolish and destructive life of crime.

Basically, we are supposed to believe that his home town simply spawns robbers. That’s not an adequate explanation for me.

And Affleck, who also directed the picture, never adequately explains how Doug and his gang of bonehead bank robbers got to be so darn good at their jobs. These guys do not look clever enough to plan elaborate heists and consistently evade the FBI.

Instead of explaining any of this, Affleck gives us a series of ridiculous and unrealistic car chases and gun fights. There is far more machine gun play in “The Town” than I was expecting.

I also didn’t appreciate the fact that every character is so dour and depressed. I know that neither the Sox nor the Patriots have won a playoff game in two years, but that doesn’t have to suck ALL the joy out of life.

“The Town” is more of an action flick than a gritty crime drama. It is entertaining enough, I guess, but I certainly don’t recommend it.

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