Release Date: 2010
Director: Ben Affleck
Why I picked this: Loved “Argo” and want to see more of Ben Affleck’s directing
“Smart” is the word that comes to mind regarding this movie. Ben Affleck’s directing is smart; he has a very intense style that keeps you on the edge, a good attention to detail, and he gets great performances from his fellow actors. The acting is really smart; Affleck himself is pretty good as bank robber Doug, but he is overshadowed by Jeremy Renner as the violent and hot-headed Jem, Doug’s best friend. Jon Hamm has a decent performance as the FBI agent in pursuit of Doug and his team, and female leads Rebecca Hall as a former hostage of Doug’s group who Doug falls for and Blake Lively as Jem’s sister and Doug’s ex-girlfriend give effective performances, but they aren’t very strong or memorable. Veteran actors Pete Postlethwaite and Chris Cooper, while having little screen time, are great supporting actors. But all of the actors play off of each other very well, and the established relationships between everyone before the events of the movie are believable. Both sides, the bank robbers and the FBI are intelligent; they play an interesting game that explodes into violence near the end. The opening heist shows how effective, careful, yet brutal the robbers are; it was really a wonder to watch. It’s a good thing that the direction and writing is as effective as the bank robbers themselves. There are very intense action sequences and tense scenes; they are never chaotic or incoherent, and are very well orchestrated. Doug faces a dilemma regarding the direction his life is going; he has sobered up and contemplates changing his lifestyle and even moving, some of these feelings being spurred by his feelings for Claire, Rebecca Hall’s character. He is loyal to her, but also his friends, and to his family (his imprisoned father and missing mother). Jem is given a good amount of backstory, and as mentioned, Renner’s performance is great. He is brutal in nature, but is intelligent, and like Doug, is loyal. Doug and Jem don’t always mesh very well during the course of events in the movie, but it is interesting to see them work together, and Affleck and Renner have some great chemistry. However, the relationship between Doug and Claire isn’t as nearly compelling; I can’t see what exactly connected them together in the first place, and I’m surprised Claire didn’t find Doug suspicious from the beginning. The climax is wonderfully brutal, but the resolution was weak, almost cheesy.
Smartly acted and directed with some great and tense action scenes, and Affleck and Renner are great to watch. However, both the romance and the ending were weak in comparison.