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The Town: Ultimate Collector’s Edition (Blu-ray Review)

The Town is a very fun bank heist/cops and robbers movie.  The film is Ben Affleck’s second time in the director’s chair, a follow up to the excellent Gone Baby Gone, and this film continues to prove that he is quite capable behind the camera.  The film is well made, wonderfully entertaining, and backed by a strong cast.  Even as it follows some familiar beats of this genre, it manages to be both a crowd-pleaser and confident in its structure.  Now The Town has been given a second release, dubbed the “Ultimate Collector’s Edition”, which contains a new cut of the film that features an alternate ending, among other new bonuses.  While not the film I expected an elaborate double-dip from, at least it’s a very watchable and well assembled film to see an ultimate version of.

Film:

Ben Affleck stars in the lead role as Doug MacRay, a career criminal, specializing in bank and armored car robbery.  As the film opens, Doug and his crew, which includes live-wire Jeremy Renner (fresh off his Oscar nom for The Hurt Locker) as Doug’s best friend Jem, rushing into a bank, dressed as masked Skeletors.  The men all efficiently work to get the money and keep the crowd under control, only to leave with the bank manager as a hostage.  This hostage is Claire, played by Rebecca Hall, who they drop off at a beach, blindfolded, later on.

An FBI agent, Adam Frawley (Jon Hamm), is later on the scene, trying to figure out who is behind this, with a mission to bring the men to justice.  He questions Claire, as she is the only possible witness, but Claire is way too terrified to give any useful knowledge.  The bank robbers know that Claire is a possible liability, so Doug plans to find her and gain out some knowledge from her by befriending her, in order to figure out if the men need to take care of her.  Of course, Doug also has a heart of gold, so he forms a relationship of sorts with Claire, who is oblivious to his true identity.  As the film progresses, Doug and the team must manage to pull off one or two more “last jobs”, while the FBI has reasonable cause to pursues them.

Other actors popping up in small roles are Pete Postlethwaite as “The Florist,” the local crime boss; Blake Lively as Jem’s druggie sister with a young daughter and is also Doug’s ex-girlfriend; and Chris Cooper as Doug’s father, who is serving five life sentences in prison.  All of the actors present in the cast do a fine job throughout.

The film is set in the tough neighborhood of Charlestown, within Boston, Massachusetts.  Here, there are apparently a lot of bank robberies, and most people from here, we are told in the opening text, grow up to be criminals.  While I didn’t see much of that in this film, it is a wonderful location, which is captured quite well do to the cinematography by Robert Elswit.  It’s nice to see a film like this on location (for example – The Departed, a very Boston film, was mostly shot in New York), because it provides for some nice authenticity and helps in setting up the audience geographically for later events.

But enough about the setting, more impressive is how well the action in this film is handled.  Clearly taking a page from Heat (which Affleck thankfully doesn’t try to one-up), he manages to create some thrilling sequences, all very entertaining, that include the bank heists, a solid car chase, and some shootouts in the finale.  The camera is never too intrusive, and despite having bullets function more as flashes of light until the screenplay needs a death, the gunplay at least looks solid.  As an action thriller, the film is certainly solid.

Acting-wise, the whole cast is very good.  While I think Affleck has proven himself as a solid director, he has also managed to put up some solid performances in smaller roles in recent years.  While he became way too overexposed in the early 00’s, I’ve never really thought badly about him (it helps that he’s just a funny dude in real life and that he was the bomb in Phantoms yo!).  Here, he does some of his best work.  Hall is also quite good, as is Hamm in a more thankless role (but it’s hard to not see Don Draper of Mad Men).  Postlethwaite is chilling in his few scenes, but the best really is Renner, who nails his flashy scenes without chewing up scenery. You get just enough of him and have the most questions about how his character will end up.  I must also note that even with all the Boston accents, I still enjoyed watching this cast.

The only real problem with this film is more of a thought that will make it positive in that crowd pleasing sense.  While Affleck’s previous film, Gone Baby Gone, dealt more with morality and hard choices, this film really plays it out straight forward, and doesn’t require other answers besides what the film gives us.  That is to say that the film is really not that complex, with the most challenging thing for us to accept is Affleck’s character arc from criminal to a guy who wants to get away from it all.  I also think that the final third, although entertaining, could have been strengthened more if it focused less on its shootouts (Heat had its huge, climactic shootout in the middle of the film, devoting the rest of the film to the fallout afterward) and more on finding more creative ways to deal with these characters.

Little knocks aside, I immensely enjoyed this film.  It’s a lot of fun, not quite Point Break in terms of 100% Adrenaline (‘Break‘s tagline), but still very solid nonetheless, with some great action sequences, good performances, and solid direction.

Additional Note:  Regarding the extending cut with the alternate ending, this is essentially the same film, despite being 30 minutes longer.  The main differences come in the form of extended character beats.  Some are somewhat redundant, as we learn the same information seen in some of the other scenes, but others go a bit more in depth in regards to the characters and developing certain aspects of them further.  The alternate ending is different and kind of interesting; basically a way to determine which cut people will prefer to watch.  Overall I could probably put on any of the three versions of this film and be satisfied.

Video: 

So given that there are three cuts of this film, I guess the most interesting thing about observing the video quality is in regards to how well the “Extended Cut with Alternate Ending” compares to the “Theatrical Cut” and the “Extended Cut”.  Given that the former is located on one Blu-ray disc, while the latter two are both on another, this is where the video quality could have been effected.  Really, it will come down how deep the buyer wants to go in getting the most superior image possible, as there really is not a whole lot of difference in quality between any of the cuts.  One can probably find that the lone cut of the film on a single disc does look better, but it’s nearly negligible.  They all feature a well handled 1080p transfer that is very satisfying to see in any regard.  The film looks pretty great in any form and the Blu-ray disc manages to capture very well the various amounts of color, textures, and shading seen throughout.  The film was shot with little focus on being especially stylistic, but still holds up in presenting an entertaining and well shot action flick, with a level of slickness that registers well in its video presentation.

 

Audio: 

The audio presentation is kind of the same story.  Each cut of the film features a lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track that does great justice to what is presented.  There is plenty to admire in the sound design of this film that features plenty of gunplay, car chases, dialogue, and moments for the score to take over.  All of this is mixed very well and is reflected in each version of the film that is presented.  Given that the film is so enjoyable to watch already, one should be quite pleased with getting to hear such a great audio track for any version of the film they decide to watch.

 

Extras: 

I have already pointed out the existence of the new cut of this film, which features the alternate ending.  That is basically the main selling point of this “Ultimate Collector’s Edition”, but there is a new special feature on the Blu-ray, as well as a tone of content inside the box of this Blu-ray set.  In the box, beyond having the different cuts of the film, there is also a mini-hardcover 48-page photo book, with various quotes inside.  There is also a small “mock” confidential file, which contains a lot of information regarding the characters in the film, an FBI file, temporary tattoos, and a mini-poster based around a map of Charlestown and Boston.  It is these kinds of items that will essentially determine how big a fan of The Town you are if one decides to double-dip and get this set.  Also, in case you care, there is a UV copy of the film available as well (for the extended cut with the alternate ending).

Features Include:

Disc 1

The Town: A Director’s Journey – A 30-minute look at Ben Affleck’s process in creating the various edits of the film.  Interesting to watch and the only new special feature, besides the extended bits in the commentary.

– Commentary by Ben Affleck – This is the same commentary you’ll find on the other versions of the film as well, but with added comments regarding the alternate ending.  If you’ve listened to the other commentary, simply jump to the end of this track to hear the new portions.

Disc 2

–  Ben’s Boston – A collection of segments that one can either access separately or watch as they are integrated during the film.  The segments include: The Cathedral of Boston, Nuns with Guns: Film in the North End, Pulling off the Perfect Heist, The Town, The Real People of The Town, and Ben Affleck: Director & Actor.  This is the same set of features that came on the previous release as well, but still does a descent job of presenting the making of the film.

–  Commentary on the Theatrical and Extended Versions by Ben Affleck – The commentary track is the same on all three versions, with the exception of where the films have new scenes added.  That said, the commentary is a solid one, with Ben Affleck touching on a lot of aspects of making the film and figuring out how to properly develop the various versions that everyone will now have seen.  Given that he is riding solo, there is no one for him to really bounce off of, but the track is informative and worth listening to nonetheless.

Disc 3

– DVD Copy of the Extended Cut with Alternate Ending

Summary: 

Once again, The Town was a very enjoyable heist picture from 2010, featuring really solid direction from Ben Affleck, as well as solid performances from the entire cast.  It didn’t necessarily do anything that we haven’t seen before, but it is a really involving film nonetheless.  This “Ultimate Collector’s Edition” does feature a good new extra feature along with another cut of the film, plus bonus goodies in the box.  It is really for the completist that was a huge fan of the film to begin with.  It is also perfectly good for anyone that didn’t pick up the initial Blu-ray release to begin with.  The strong video and audio presentations are also certainly nothing to overlook either.  It’s a fine film that is a great Blu-ray to own for all sorts of reasons.

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Writer/Reviewer, Film Lover, Podcaster, Gamer, Comic Reader, Disc Golfer & a Lefty. There are too many films, TV, books, etc. for me to list as favorites, but I can assure that the amount film knowledge within my noggin is ridiculous, though I am always open to learning more. You can follow me on Twitter @AaronsPS4, see what else I am up to at TheCodeIsZeek.com & check out my podcast, Out Now with Aaron and Abe, on iTunes.

2 Responses to “The Town: Ultimate Collector’s Edition (Blu-ray Review)”


  1. Brian White

    Besides GOOD WILL HUNTING, this has to be one of my favorite Affleck movie of them all. Loved it! Jeremy Renner’s not too shabby either. What am I talking about. He’s a bad a$$ in this film. 4.5!

  2. mplo

    The town is overrated, and more like a feature-length, made for TV soap opera than a regular movie, imo. Having only seen the theatrical verson of The Town and not liking it very much, I rate it a 1 or 1.5 at the most.