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Some may groan about the Ben Affleck crime flick getting the Ultimate Collector's Edition treatment, but this is one helluva box set....
Warner / 125 Minutes / 2010 / Rated R / Street Date: March 6, 2012
You know what? He did it. The Town may not be the seismic classic some critics have attested, but upon watching the extended cut of the film on Blu-ray - and now the extended extended cut on this Ultimate Collector's Edition - I must admit that any misgivings I had about Mr. Gigli helming a picture like this one have been silenced. If Gone Baby Gone was Ben Affleck's Alice Doesn't Live Here Any More, The Town is his Mean Streets: It's a movie as assuredly cocksure as most other high-profile Hollywood crime dramas.
What works best in the picture is its simplicity. Affleck uses a handful of silver-screen tricks to ensure that The Town remains Scorsese-adjacent throughout - the movie's opening heist scene is 'Exhibit A' in this regard - but The Town comes alive most compellingly in its quieter moments, with Affleck and young Rebecca Hall striking up a love affair, with Chris Cooper's incisive and quietly elegant performance as Affleck's locked-up daddy: These instances elevate The Town distinctly from pulp-genre fluff to legitimately savvy mainstream entertainment.
The plot of the film isn't exaggerated - Affleck plays Doug MacRay, a man who robs a bank in Cambridge along with a bunch of other ruffians only to find that he is falling in love with the bank manager (Hall) the gang took hostage during the strike. What follows is a fairly traditional ethical conundrum for the MacRay character, but Affleck employs a stern and steady directorial hand to keep even The Town's more predictable moments from veering into schmaltz.
The question here, though, is whether this surprisingly encyclopedic Blu-ray box set is worth the price of admission. The movie's original high-def release was just fine - it came with a commentary, a doc, and a few versions of the picture - but even if this new 'third' cut of the thing isn't perhaps its definitive incarnation (the ten-minute new ending is intriguing, but perhaps disposable), this box set is pretty darned irresistible. There are other Warner titles that maybe deserve this kind of regal treatment more than The Town, but if you enjoyed the film the first time around and haven't gotten around to purchasing it in high-def, the time is now: Pick up this bad boy.