We have come a long way from the paparazzi filled “Bennifer” days, Ben Affleck increasingly deciding to spend his time on the other side of the camera, directing films.

Here he gets to play on both sides with a character set very much on his home turf, Charlestown, Boston, apparently the bank and armed robbery capital of the US.

“I’m proud to be from Charlestown. It ruined my life, literally, but I’m proud.” – Charlestown Man, Boston Globe

Doug MacRay (Affleck) is the son of a bank robber and appears to have inherited these skills from his incarcerated father (Chris Cooper). With all jobs bizarrely masterminded and bank rolled from the local florist where “Fergie” (the late and much missed Pete Postlethwaite), acts as a brutal puppet master for all things illegal.

Following another successful raid with his “Skeletor masked” lifelong buddies and crew, “Jem” (Renner), “Gloansy” (Slaine) & “Des” (Burke), it becomes necessary to “manage” one of the bank witnesses taken as a hostage. The pretty, spirited and understandably traumatized Rebbeca Hall (Keesey).

Whilst bumping off witnesses is not high on Doug’s to do list, he is after all a living oxymoron, a caring bank robber, his somewhat psychotic cohort “Jem” has no such scruples.

Doug pacifies the requirement to do something by befriending the witness on the pretext of learning what she knows and this rapidly turns into a relationship. Much to the concern of “Jem” who also sports an easily identifiable tattoo noted during the robbery.

There is much to like here, the action scenes are believable and well staged in a urban style that “Heat” pioneered. The interaction between the characters is believable and the dialogue rings true. The group are actively and almost obsessively pursued by FBI agent Frawley (Jon Hamm) who again presents a seemingly realistic portrayal.

Blake Lively (Krista Coughlin) adds some “trailer trash” vulnerability to her character as Doug’s casual ex, in love with him for all the wrong reasons.

There is an obvious feeling of inevitability that this cannot and will not end well and it is obvious that hard choices, disappointments and loyalties will be questioned. Doug remains trapped within an imagined destiny, knowing he should break away whilst weighed down by inertia and guilt.

There are flaws, seemingly the robbery crew can spray police cars from point blank range with automatic weapons with little or no discernible casualties. The tattoo reveal is somewhat wasted, being replaced with yet more hi tech firefights which is disappointing bearing in mind the good plot ground work that has come before.

Renner shows again he can act and Affleck is solid and certainly does not let the side down in his dual role. Postlethwaite proves once again what a fine actor he was but if there is a stand out, Keesey shows a very impressive mix of vulnerability, steel, hope and disappointment, in a role that will do no harm on her CV.

The film is slightly let down by an over busy and noisy denouement, subtlety would have had a more profound effect. However, as a director Affleck remains someone to watch, he can and hopefully will do even better but this is a solid effort.


A very competent character driven action thriller with a great story and some solid performances.