Heist films can be distinguished by the original execution of any of the genre's essential staples: a riveting bank robbery, a pulse-quickening getaway, a gothic shootout. Ben Affleck's "The Town" has all that, but one sequence that sets it apart from many movies of its kind is something that unfolds far from the scene of a crime: an emotional jailhouse visit between Doug MacRay (Affleck, who directed himself in the starring role) and his incarcerated father, Mac ( Chris Cooper).
The father is cowed, the son diminished — there's no swagger for this pair of career criminals, only the inescapable sorrow of a family that made the wrong turn at every possible intersection. "It's really at the heart of what the movie is about," Affleck says. "That was a day I felt really excited about making the movie."
The actor's second time behind the camera (Affleck directed 2007's acclaimed "Gone Baby Gone"), "The Town" is a loose adaptation of Chuck Hogan's crime novel "Prince of Thieves," wherein a band of masked thieves in Boston's Charlestown area kidnap a bank clerk, only to have one of the crooks (Affleck's MacRay) subsequently fall for the hostage ( Rebecca Hall) he's supposed to make sure doesn't incriminate them.