Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Ben Affleck’s “The Town” Surprise #1: Thanks Jon Hamm


The box office prognosticators are going nuts right now because “The Town,” directed by Ben Affleck, finished the weekend at number 1. It took in a lovely $23.8 million.

It shouldn’t have come as a surprise. “The Town” is a solid hit. What’s more, it’s a really terrific movie. Affleck, as I’ve said before, is becoming the Sidney Lumet of Boston. He knows the terrain, the language, the behavior. And “The Town” is not just “Gone Baby Gone” redux. It’s its own film. I could see Warner Bros. pushing it into the final ten for the Academy Awards.

Affleck is also the star, and it’s his best work in years. He’s matured as an actor considerably. But as a director he shows a keen eye, and knows how to move the camera, mix humor and drama, and get great performances from his actors.

To that end, Affleck surrounds himself with strong actors. Jon Hamm’s turn here cannot be discounted. So popular in “Mad Men,” and with an audience he’s built up from “30 Rock” and “SNL,” Hamm is really a star in “The Town.” I said from the beginning that he’d follow in George Clooney’s footsteps from TV to film. “The Town” is proof positive that he’s got it. His FBI agent is no Don Draper. Hamm is on his way.

Then there’s Jeremy Renner. Nominated for Best Actor in “The Hurt Locker,” Renner is a sensational character actor in “The Town.” The screenplay is so good that he just sort of leaks into it bit by bit until he’s sort of occupied every corner of the story. He could easily gain Best Supporting Actor attention from this role.

So “The Town” heads into its first full week and second weekend as a hit hit hit. It’s a movie you can recommend to anyone who loves film–it’s smart and full of action. Ben Affleck, take a bow. And Jon Hamm, call your agent.

PS Blake Lively is really sensational in “The Town.” Who knew? I’d lumped her in with all those “Gossip Girl” and vampire actors. She’s just outstanding.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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