The Town

Fairly routine cops and robbers movie ably directed by Ben Affleck, who also cowrote the script (adapted from Chuck Hogan's novel Prince of Thieves) and stars as a clever crook who knocks over a Boston bank with his three cronies (chief among them a hothead played by Jeremy Renner, finally getting the A-list projects he deserves). He then rather inexplicably falls in love with the bank's manager, played by Rebecca Hall, whom the quartet had briefly held hostage after the heist. (Hall, who never saw the men's faces because of their masks and then her blindfold, apparently is no good at recognizing voices.) Dramatic tension ensues.

Mad Men's Jon Hamm rounds out the hip supporting cast as an FBI agent hot on the thieves' trail. Affleck, who pleasantly surprised everybody with his directorial debut Gone Baby Gone, proves again that he has the chops to turn in a decent thriller, and the love he has for his hometown is evident in every frame. But as an actor, he is as wooden as ever, and the story is a pile of cliches, though delivered with a bit more conviction than expected from a cast that seems truly engaged.

Essentially, The Town is Heat set in Beantown, with a miscast lead and a handful of exciting, well-staged action scenes. An entertaining two hours, but ultimately forgettable. Affleck should stay behind the camera.