Ben Affleck does a good job with this film. He stars as Doug McRay, the leader of a group of bank robbers in contemporary Boston. According to a quote that opens the film, more bank robbers come from Charlestown (close to the city) than anywhere else in the world. The knowledge of bank robbing is handed down from father to son. John Dillinger would have liked this place! ;)
The accents were pretty good! Hollywood has a tough time with New England accents, but of course Ben had it down, since he’s a native! And the others’ accents didn’t hurt my ears or those of my moviegoing companions, so that’s a good thing in my book. I’ll be curious to see if Christian Bale does his usual fine work with accents when he tackles a New England one for his latest film, The Fighter (coming soon).
The milieu is so authentic, one of the characters refers to soda as ‘tonic’, something that isn’t used as much anymore but you can still hear it.
Also, there are two snippets of actual broadcasts from WEEI, the Boston station that's No. 1 in the country among sports talk radio. You can hear the voices of Dale Arnold and Michael Holley from the midday show discussing Red Sox topics, Jacoby Ellsbury's slow-healing ribs and the song Dirty Water played at Fenway Park.
Doug’s best friend, Jem Coughlin, is played by Jeremy Renner, who did outstanding work in The Hurt Locker as the nearly out-of-control bomb specialist in Iraq. Coughlin is only a few steps away from total craziness, and Renner plays it smoothly and with the right amount of edge.
Of course Doug had to be a former pro hockey player! Despite the mismanagement of the Boston Bruins for the last 48 years (the last time they won a Stanley Cup), hockey is still in the blood here. College hockey is a very big deal, and a lot of kids grow up with NHL stars in their eyes. The 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team had mainly guys from Massachusetts and Minnesota on its roster.
He wasn’t a pro for long and that’s why he turned to the family business of robbing banks, but it’s a wonderful detail that fits Boston/New England so well.
The movie isn’t quite what I’d call a caper film, as those tend to be more elegant and sometimes even lighthearted. This was gritty and dark and pulled no punches. Expect violence and rough language all the way through. It was blue-collar and while most people think of Italians when the word ‘Mob’ is mentioned, this film showed a Massachusetts institution: the Irish Mob. Used jokingly to refer to the Irish-Americans that once surrounded JFK in his close inner political circle, it’s a very real deal, as anyone who lives in the most Irish-American state can attest.
A moment of amusement: that police chase after the robbers in the North End? Pure Hollywood license. NO WAY would there be any chase like that in the narrow, winding streets of the Italian enclave.
Also, Boston Irish Catholic robbers dressing up as nuns just seems fitting somehow. ;)
The script was well-paced, and showed us not only the blue-collar world of Charlestown but the upper echelons of Boston, and the climactic scene took place at Boston’s secular shrine: Fenway Park, home of the Boston Red Sox. Affleck had gotten permission to film inside and around Fenway and used it to good advantage. The 98-year-old ballpark was the star of the big robbery/shoot-out scene, the red brick and green paint so familiar to Red Sox fans. This scene was exceptionally well-done.
I’d recommend this movie if you like gritty, fast-paced drama with a strong sense of time and place.