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Title: The Town

Movie: :4stars:
Video: :4stars:
Audio: :5stars:
Extras: :3stars:

HTS Overall Score:85

Most people had pretty much written off Ben Affleck by the time 2010 rolled around. He had broken into the acting world with a bang and his friend Matt Damon had systematically eclipsed his career by the time Ben’s was winding down into a dull thud after the horror that was “Gigli” in 2003. I don’t think I had seen more than a smattering of his later work until I heard that Affleck was actually getting behind the camera and making a crime thriller in which he both directs and acts. So naturally my movie watching buddy and I checked it out in theaters and came away WILDLY impressed. My thoughts were “If this is how Affleck is when he’s behind the camera I want to see more of his stuff now”! “The Town” is a gritty crime drama that puts in a little bit of romance and a healthy amount of gangsters and cops trading bullets to make for one engrossing film. The Blu-ray was given a nice director’s cut of the film too, which expands on some character beats as well as gave us videophiles something to whine about when it came to a controversial video encode. Sadly the extended cut of “The Town” is nowhere to be seen on 4K, but it IS included as the Blu-ray disc of the combo pack, which at least makes it available for those who want it.

Based off the novel “Prince of Thieves” written by Chuck Hogan, “The Town” chronicles the life and crime of a band of high class thieves in a little neighborhood in Boston called Charleston. This 1 square mile neighborhood is supposedly the king of armed robberies in the U.S. there is over 300 armed robberies in Boston a year and most of them are perpetuated by the slums of Charleston. Doug Macray and his crew of thieves are one such statistic of that neighborhood. Doug is a bit different than your average criminal, though. He was given a chance for success and a way out of the life of crime his father started for him, but he decided to give that up in order to helm a crew of thieves including his best friend, Jem (Jeremy Renner). The boys had grown up together taking care of each other when no one else would, but this last job they pulled off changes things forever. Jem decided that taking a hostage during a bank robbery was a good idea, and making it the bank manager Claire (Rebecca Hall) was an even better idea.

Shortly after letting her go the crew finds out that she lives in Charleston too and that makes the Doug and Jem VERY nervous. Who knows what she knows about them and their plans. If she recognized their voices from walking by or the like. Doug takes it upon himself to wheedle his way into Claire’s life in order to test that theory and along the way starts to realize that there are things outside of a life of crime. Naturally that doesn’t exactly sit well with Jem and the two men start chafing at the bit when it comes to Claire’s safety. Loyalties are tested and soon what will be “one last job” turns into a bloodbath when FBI agent Frawley (John Hamm) meticulously lays a trap for the crew using Claire as the perfect bait.

As I said, “The Town” has really endeared Affleck to me. It’s obvious he took his earlier failures under consideration and did some work to polish up his acting skills. Not to mention finding his passion behind the camera as a director (and soon to be writer). It’s made him one of the hottest stars in Hollywood post 2010 and for good reason. “The Town” is an exquisitely crafted crime drama that is heavy on grit and brutality and light on shiny Hollywood “doo dads”. The comradery and chemistry between Jem and Doug is one of the defining characteristics of the film, even eclipsing Doug’s relationship with Claire. Clear tales of redemption and remorse wind their way through it, giving the viewer some “meat” to chew on between gunfights and police encounters.

The film peels back layers and layers of familial drama, dark inner turmoil and raging fear amidst the world of crime that is Boston, but it’s done skillfully, without adding too much cheese to the recipe. The weakest part of the movie comes in the form of Claire and Doug’s obvious romance. It feels like a B-grade romance thrown in to help kick start Doug’s empathetic nature and turn him back to the light side (so to speak). I will admit that I really rather missed the director’s cut on this 4K release, but while it IS the superior cut, the 25 minute shorter theatrical cut is no slouch either. It’s trimmer, and more agile in the storytelling department and a few of the added scenes really didn’t need to be in there. Which gives me less consternation over the lack of the extra cut (well, despite being on the 1080p Blu-ray).


Rated R for strong violence, pervasive language, some sexuality and drug use

Video :4stars:

“The Town” had a rather controversial video encode when it first came out almost 6 years ago to the day on Blu-ray. Nowadays Warner puts extended and theatrical cuts on their own discs (ala “Batman vs. Superman”) instead of using seamless branching, but in 2010 they were putting two separate encodes on ONE disc. When you’re talking about 4.5 hours’ worth of material on a single disc things get a little dicey. It really did look fine, but there was some black crush and a little artifacting here and there that kept it from being a GREAT transfer. The 4K release is shows that bitrate is not always the end all, be all of the process. The 4K UHD encode is pretty healthy upon viewing. Colors are muted and lean towards blues and yellows as the film is NOT a brightly lit experience. I had a hard time really seeing the uptick in quality like I have with others in the past, but there is still better resolution and finer detailing on the textures all around. Soft focus items like the pigeons on top of the building are still out of focus due to the filming style, but the 35 mm shot image is lusciously grainy and has a beautiful canvas to work with. There’s still some crush as evidenced in several of the heists, and the 2K transfer keeps it from being as sharp as I would have liked. Which is strange since “The Town” was shot on 35mm and a 4K rescanning of the film may have helped a bit more in that department.

Audio :5stars:

As with all 4 of these 4K releases from Warner Brothers, the audio track is the same 5.1 DTS-HD MA mix that was present on the Blu-ray and the collector’s edition Blu-ray. However that is in NO way a bad thing, as it was reference material back then and still is to this day. Dialog is strong and clean with Renner and Affleck putting on thick Boston accents being the only thing that would ever make it hard to understand the vocals. Surrounds are wildly active with the sounds of Boston traffic beeping and honking in the background accompanied by the roar of subway trains and the hail of gunfire during the shootouts. LFE is simply punishing, with incredible output with things like the afore mentioned trains, or the rat a tat tat of gunfire during the van escapade. Simply put, whether it be on Blu-ray or 4K, that 5.1 DTS-HD MA mix one rocking track to listen to and still one of my favorite films with shootouts in it along with “Heat” for sonic immersion.

Extras: :3stars:

• The Town: A Director’s Journey
• Audio Commentaries
• Ben's Boston

Overall: :4stars:

“The Town” was actually the film that had me give Ben Affleck a second look after his debacle with “Gigli” back in 2003. I had written him off as a mediocre actor who had just gotten too many picture deals by making a deal with some unknown evil force, but 2010 rolled around and we got to see just how much he’d matured. Especially now that he was behind the camera. This is probably one of my favorite heist movies besides “Heat”, and Affleck and Renner make for some incredible TV watching. There’s a few hiccups along the way and Ben certainly has some kinks to work out with his directing style, but “The Town” was a great ride and the included Director’s cut (even if it's only on Blu-ray) is even better. Once again the extended and “tweaked” edition from the Ultimate Collector’s edition is missing, but that’s one thing that I really don’t mind. The ultimate cut was more of a curio than anything and isn’t THAT much different from the director’s cut. The alternate ending and the few tweaked scenes WERE something that I felt SHOULD have been in the original release, but were left out for marketing reasons. Especially now that it has already been released in the past I feel that it was once again something that SHOULD have been included in this set as well, but also something that I won’t lose sleep over either. Audio is AMAZING, and video is solid and the extras are all ported over from the original Blu-ray, making this a decent upgrade for those with the equipment. Still a must watch film in my opinion.

Additional Information:

Starring: Ben Affleck, Jeremy Renner, Blake Lively, Jon Hamm
Directed by: Ben Affleck
Written by: Ben Affleck, Peter Craig
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1 HEVC
Audio: ENGLISH: DTS-HD MA 5.1, Spanish, French, DD 5.1
Studio: Warner Brothers
Rated: R
Runtime: 150 minutes (Extended) / 125 minutes (Theatrical)
Blu-Ray Release Date: December 6th, 2016

Buy The Town on 4K Blu-ray at Amazon

Recommendation: Watch It!

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