Ben Affleck & Matt Damon on the Red Carpet at Fenway Park Credit: Jared Carrabis.
Jon Hamm in The Town outside Fenway Park Credit: Warner Bros.
As Affleck described to an audience of about 1,700 before the film hit the screen, "The Town" is short for Charlestown, a neighborhood in the northern part of Boston. The modernized cops and robbers motion picture is the story of four bank robbers who are on the hunt for one big score after another, while Special Agent Adam Frawley, played by Jon Hamm, is an FBI agent on a wild goose chase to put a stop to the foursome’s crime spree.
On the red carpet, Hamm spoke of the research that was involved in the film, and the statistics that opened his eyes to the reality of the crime scene in the Charlestown area of Boston.
The film is based on the novel Prince of Thieves by Chuck Hogan, who I had the chance to speak with before the premiere of the film adaptation of his book. Hogan was very excited to see the pages of his book brought to life on the big screen, as he hoped that the film would help moviegoers to discover his novel. Affleck began his acting career in 1981 in The Dark End of the Street, made his writing debut in 1997 after co-penning Good Will Hunting with Matt Damon, and kick-started his directing career with Gone Baby Gone in 2007. Never before had Affleck combined those three attributes to filmmaking prior to The Town, but it was worth the wait.
Those who pile into their local movie theater after the September 17, 2010 release date will witness what Affleck described as, "sort of like running a marathon." The "marathon" that he refers to, of course, is the strenuous task of starring in, writing and directing a film all at once.
When asked about having more films being shot in Boston, "I’m trying my best," Affleck told the huddle of media members with their outstretched microphones.
The star of The Town then shared his thoughts on the importance of having his film not only taking place in Boston, but actually being filmed here as well.
"It is important, and one of the things that’s really important to me about this movie, coming here and having this premiere here, is that it shows off what Boston has. It shows off more than three hundred people in the crew from Boston. It shows off more than 100 actors from Boston."
Ben’s good friend, and Boston native himself, Matt Damon was on hand in support of Affleck’s film, donning a Red Sox cap to the Boston crowd’s approval.
The ambience surrounding the actual the screening of the film had a very neighborhood-friendly feeling to it. In my high school days, a friend of mine, who is an aspiring director, used to make movies with his friends. At the completion of each movie, he would debut each film by filling up his backyard with locals and projecting his latest masterpiece onto his house, almost like a drive-in movie.
The premiere of The Town took me back to those days, as the atmosphere was that of the small-town kid inviting some of the locals over to watch his movie that was filmed within the neighborhood. Only this time, it was Ben Affleck, and we were all seated comfortably along the third baseline at Fenway Park for a movie that was shot all across the city of Boston, with a budget that exceeded the annual salary of Alex Rodriguez at $37.5 million.
The viewing experience for this premiere was unlike anything that any other moviegoer could experience, for many reasons. The main reason, for me, was that it didn’t take long for me to realize that I was surrounded by numerous employees of Fenway Park and residents of Boston, who made cameo appearances throughout the duration of the film. The crowd reactions were an indicator that we were among many who were receiving their split-seconds of fame.
As a frequent visitor of Fenway Park, it was double the thrill to see dramatic action scenes being acted out on grounds that I have walked across many times, either to get to my seats, or to grab a mid-inning beer.
Needless to say, the entire experience was fantastic, and the movie itself kept me on the edge of my seat. Unlike in The Departed, the Boston accent comes off as genuine and real in The Town, as opposed to forced and fake; and the shots that were used to capture Boston’s beauty throughout the entire movie were nothing short of spectacular.
The seemingly non-stop scenes of heart-pumping action and drama are split up by more than a few scenes of laugh-out-loud moments, which is hard to accomplish when you have your audience gripping their armrests.
The Town just may be one of the first movies that I see in theaters more than once in quite some time. If you’re the type that likes to wait for movies to come out on DVD or Blu-ray, I suggest you make an exception for The Town; you won’t be disappointed.