In terms of character and plot, then, The Town doesn’t challenge conventionality. Where it excels is in sustaining mood, and this has a lot to do with the performances. As Jem, Renner is a ferocious, tattoo’d fireplug, his meth-addled psyche poised somewhere between the adrenaline junkie of The Hurt Locker and the serial killer of Dahmer. He’s given demonic back-up by Pete Postlethwaite as the Whitey Bulger stand-in and Chris Cooper as Doug’s Walpole-incarcerated dad, not to mention a host of locals portraying variations of themselves.
All of which wouldn’t amount to much if not for the lucid, rollicking heist sequences. If the North End caper doesn’t convince you of Affleck’s knack for flat-out action, the climactic, Heat-style Fenway Park takedown should. In terms of theme, the film taps into nothing deeper than the universal anger at banks — or at the Red Sox — but as an indulgence in the exhilarating inevitabilities of the genre, it triumphs. And maybe if there’s a sequel, Affleck can knock over the Braintree 10 Cinema as well.