Say what you like about Ben Affleck the actor, as a director and screenwriter he is more than competent. As with his overlooked directorial debut Gone Baby Gone, Affleck has adapted another Boston-set crime novel (Prince of Thieves by Chuck Hogan) and made use of local non-actors and real settings to create an authentic-feeling, action-packed adventure.
The opening bank robbery contains smart camera work and an eye for detail. Unlike in his first film, Affleck also stars in his picture and at times the dual roles of director and star don’t quite gel, with either his performance being slightly off or the direction not up to the standard of his debut film. Affleck plays Doug MacRay, the leader of a gang of crooks, including his best pal, the ferocious loose cannon Jem (Jeremy Renner). Their friendship is tested when MacRay riskily starts dating an employee (Rebecca Hall) from a bank they’ve robbed. Affleck wants us to side with the bad guys; even though the main cop chasing them is a decent guy played by Mad Men’s Jon Hamm. The characters are interesting but the conventional plot fails to ignite and the James Cagney ending is clichéd and weak.
General release, Fri 24 Sep.