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Douglas Pratt

By Douglas Pratt Pratt@moviecitynews.com

DVD Geek: The Town

Ben Affleck’s expansive crime drama about a Boston bank heist crew, The Town, has been released on a Blu-ray by Warner Home Video, containing both the 125-minute theatrical release and a 153-minute ‘Extended Director’s Cut.’  There is, interestingly, one scene in the director’s cut that repeats aspects of a conversation that occurs previously in the film, but it is actually like real life, where someone asks you the same question again because they don’t remember asking it before, and it is a nice little moment that never really happens in movies that are pared to the bone, even on director’s editions.  The longer version of the film is the more satisfying version because it has more time to explore the characters, and that is the point of the movie.  The theatrical version makes an efficient action film, but the Extended Cut keeps all of the action while letting it mean more because you know the characters better.  Affleck also stars, and in some ways the film is one of those wish fulfillment projects where, through his character, the director/star gets to live out a macho daydream.  But where directors like Steve Martin and Woody Allen have used this device to imagine that young women are attracted to them because of their personalities, Affleck is still young enough himself to believably get the girl, and instead gets to pretend that he’s a successful, high-adrenaline crook.  Giving the best performance in the film, Rebecca Hall plays a bank manager who is abducted during one of the heists and then released, with Affleck’s character, who had been disguised, then looking her up and striking up a relationship with her.  It’s absurd, but necessary to get the plot going, and since most of the film is relatively absurd anyway, if you accept these small exaggerations, you can have a very good time with how the story then plays out among the characters.  In another inspired piece of casting, John Hamm is the FBI agent heading the task force that is trying to bust the crew.  Curiously, there is one really nice sequence in the theatrical version near the end, showing how Affleck’s character evades some police checkpoints, that has been removed for no apparent reason from the Extended Cut, making his actions a little more confusing. 

The picture is presented in letterboxed format with an aspect ratio of about 2.35:1.  The color transfer is sharp and accurate.  The DTS sound mix has some nice moments, especially once the shooting begins.  The theatrical version comes with alternate French and Spanish tracks in 5.1 Dolby Digital.  A second platter is included that contains a copy of the film on DVD and a copy that can be downloaded onto handheld viewing devices.  The BD has alternate English, French and Spanish subtitles, and 30 minutes of passable production featurettes.  An option also allows the featurettes to pop up in appropriate spots as the film is unfolding. 

Affleck supplies a commentary track on the theatrical version and the same track with additional comments on the Extended Cut.  Along with discussing his approach and technique in various scenes, he talks a lot about the Boston locations and Boston culture being explored in the film, and about the research he did with the real bank robbers who operate or have operated in the past in the area of Boston where the film is set.  At one point in the movie, the robbers put on uniforms to escape detection because, Affleck explains, “People see a uniform and not a person.  I always wondered about that until we had to shoot the piece going to the train on the end, and I actually decided to take the subway from where we were to South Station, where the train was, wearing this outfit, and not a single person said anything to me.”  Except one old woman, who came up to ask him for directions.

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