Ben Affleck is making a name for himself as a burgeoning director. His films, emotional crime dramas set in Boston, seem to exude a genuine empathy for the city's lower class inhabitants - most often rendered as tormented, drug and alcohol addled bystanders content with maintaining the status quo. 'The Town' is no different, pitting a team of bank robbers against not only a trigger-happy FBI, but societal restraints, seemingly dictating that the crew live in the wake of their sins until the next 'job' presents itself. It's an aimless lifestyle, imposing upon these outlaws a lack of permissible ambition.
Taking place in a decaying Charlestown, Massachusetts, Affleck, along with writers Peter Craig and Aaron Stockard (and adapted from Chuck Hogan's novel 'Prince of Thieves') construct a grim story centered on Affleck's Douglas MacRay, and his yearning desire to escape the archetypal gangster 'life' and carry on a steady relationship. This is no easy task, of course, considering this protagonist's loyalty to his delinquent buddies (including the manic James Coughlin, played in an Oscar-worthy turn by Jeremy Renner), an imprisoned father, and a menacing florist enigmatically played by Pete Postlethwaite with a thick Irish accent and a lingering sneer - not to mention a newfound love interest who is, ironically, a local Charlestown bank manager whose relative 'goodness' is measured by the extent to which she cares for her garden.
Without debating the disparity between cliches and archetypes, it's fair to say that this story has been told in various fashion for some time now. It's nothing new or revolutionary. It's a simple narrative, simply told. In this case, that's all the material requires.