The Source for Parents

Movie Reviews
by Todd Pearage

Town, The (12/14/2010)

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

Directed by Ben Affleck (Gone Baby Gone)

Starring: Ben Affleck, Rebecca Hall, Jon Hamm and Jeremy Renner

Todd's Rating: Theatre Worthy

One wild ride.

Doug MacRay (Ben Affleck) was born and raised in Charlestown, a blue-collar neighborhood in Boston, where crime is a part of life. Charlestown is the world's capital for carjacking, kidnappings, and armed robberies. The tricks of the criminal trade are passed down from father to son. Doug is the brains and ruthless leader of a gang of bank robbers who have been able to get out clean after each bank robbery. But Doug knows that his luck will not last forever, and he is looking for one last big heist that will give him the chance to leave the town in his rear-view mirror. But no one will let him, especially, his right-hand man "Jem" James Coughlin (Jeremy Renner).

One critic said “The Town” is “Heat” meets “The Departed”. That is a perfect description of this wildly entertaining bank heist film. It has the action of Heat and the drama of The Departed. The only thing this film lacks is the star power. Not because Ben Affleck and Jon Hamm aren’t superstars, it’s because those other two films pulled in Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, Jack Nicholson, Leonardo DiCaprio and Matt Damon. Speaking of Afleck, not only was I impressed in his acting (more Heat and less Gigli), but he is proving he is a talented director as well. Not to mention he clearly spent some time in the gym preparing for this role.

The rest of the cast is pretty great too, especially “Mad Men’s” John Hamm and The Hurt Locker’s Jeremy Renner.

The only problem I had with The Town was with Doug, the conflicted antihero. The are moments when he actually does the right thing and thinks the right way. Like when he writes to Claire, "No matter how much you change, you gotta pay the price for what you've done." We are lead to believe that he’s not a bloodthirsty monster like James. But he did break into someone's apartment and beat the living daylights out of a stranger. And he did execute two other people in cold blood. The difference (we are lead to believe) is they were really bad a deserved it. At the end of the day, although he may be conflicted here and there…he is not wearing a white hat.

Had he been a true hero or even a flawed hero, this would have been a “Worth Buying” film…instead I’m giving it a “Theater Worthy”.

The violence and language definitely earn the R-rating. There are also two sex scenes. Neither shows much skin but there is no mistaking what is happening.

Conversation Starter
Three Simple Questions (with Answers You May Be Looking for):

Q: What was the theme (or the message) of this movie

A: This movie clearly shows that sometimes, the bad guys win. It’s true that the main character had a change of heart, but not before he caused some serious, life-ending damage to others. Two lessons should be learned from this film:

First, there are always ramifications for our actions. If our actions are sinful, the consequences are painful. If our actions are righteous, the ramifications are blessings. Many of MacRay’s actions were violent, selfish, hurtful, and downright evil. Thus, he (and those around him) had to pay a steep price for what he did.

Second, the people we put around us influence us. MacRay’s character was surrounded by a tough group of guys: Dez, Gloansy, and Jem. Unfortunately, they tended to feed off each other. Instead of stirring one another to a better life, they just brought one another down.

Q: As Christians, what should our reaction to this movie be?

A: Ummm…don’t rob banks.

More to the point, Christians must remember that the cycle of sin can be overcome.

Throughout the movie, viewers are reminded how prolific crime is in Charlestown…how violent the city is…how many robberies happen each year…how families with crooks just breed more crooks, as with the case of the MacRay family. In large part, Doug was a criminal because his father was a criminal. But it didn’t have to be that way. Doug could have lived his life differently from his father.

When the mighty leader Joshua was about to die, God reminded the Israelites of their former lives (and their parents’ former lives)…and ultimately gave them a choice. Joshua 24:8-18 reads:

    “I brought you to the land of the Amorites who lived east of the Jordan. They fought against you, but I gave them into your hands. I destroyed them from before you, and you took possession of their land. When Balak son of Zippor, the king of Moab, prepared to fight against Israel, he sent for Balaam son of Beor to put a curse on you. But I would not listen to Balaam, so he blessed you again and again, and I delivered you out of his hand.
    “Then you crossed the Jordan and came to Jericho. The citizens of Jericho fought against you, as did also the Amorites, Perizzites, Canaanites, Hittites, Girgashites, Hivites and Jebusites, but I gave them into your hands. I sent the hornet ahead of you, which drove them out before you—also the two Amorite kings. You did not do it with your own sword and bow. So I gave you a land on which you did not toil and cities you did not build; and you live in them and eat from vineyards and olive groves that you did not plant.
    “Now fear the LORD and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your forefathers worshiped beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD. But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.
    Then the people answered, "Far be it from us to forsake the LORD to serve other gods! It was the LORD our God himself who brought us and our fathers up out of Egypt, from that land of slavery, and performed those great signs before our eyes. He protected us on our entire journey and among all the nations through which we traveled. And the LORD drove out before us all the nations, including the Amorites, who lived in the land. We too will serve the LORD, because he is our God.”

Just because their parents and grandparents had disobeyed God didn’t mean they had to. These Israelites wanted to live better lives for God.

Q: How can we move from healthy, Bible-based opinions about this movie to actually living out those opinions?

A: We should really take a hard long look at the friends we keep. What kind of people do we surround ourselves with? What kind of influence do they have over us? Do they make us better or worse? If we discover that they are not healthy for us, we must take action to solve that problem. We can speak to them, and ask them to be better…for themselves and for us. If that doesn’t work, we should probably sever the relationship between them and us.

This movie should also cause us to put aside our sin. It was clear, time and again, that when people made rebellious, sinful decisions, they paid high prices for their choices and actions. The same is true for us; if we live recklessly, we will have to suffer the consequences.

Todd Pearage Todd Pearage is a movie buff at heart, but he's not your traditional film critic. Todd is a blue collar film geek, from his job years ago at Blockbuster to his heartfelt online movie reviews. But Todd isn't just a film geek. He has worked with middle and high school students since 1991 as a youth pastor and is currently on staff at Calvary Church in Souderton, PA. Todd and his wife Lynda have three children, Brianna, Caleb and Addyson.

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