It’s already been a couple years since Ben Affleck‘s crime drama The Town and people are still talking about it. So much that it’s been released again from Warner Brothers, but this time in a sturdy looking Ultimate Collector’s Edition set. The package is bigger than most Blu-Rays and features loads of extra goodies as well as three versions of the film, including a never-before-seen alternate ending that’s tagged onto the previously released extended cut. This new presentation of The Town provides the viewers with the closest version of the film that Ben Affleck wanted you to see and it’s easily the best cut of the film, bringing the underlying messages closer to point and adding an extra emotional punch to keep you sitting long after the credits. The Town is simply one of the best crime films released and Warner Brothers gives the film the best treatment possible with this new release.
Doug MacRay (Ben Affleck) and his closest friends, including his lifelong brother James Coughlin (Jeremy Renner), are bank robbers who live in the infamous Charlestown neighborhood of Boston. They’re old-fashion robbers who believe strongly in family and brotherhood. It’s been a family business, passed down by their fathers and most likely their father’s father.
But things get a little more complicated when a bank manager named Claire Keesey (Rebecca Hall) and FBI agent Adam Frawley (Jon Hamm) get thrown into the mix. During a heist Doug and his crew take Claire hostage and let her go shortly after. They soon come to realize how close she lives to them, so they must figure out if she needs to be eliminated from the equation. Doug takes it upon himself to follow her and make sure she won’t say anything and by doing so he falls for her.
He’s at a changing point in his life, recently given up drinking and drugs. He wants to get out of the game, but his hot-head friend James, who took a stint in prison for him, won’t allow it. Doug’s faced with the difficult decision of choosing your family over friends. Claire presents herself as an option for Doug to change his life and make something of it. He’s a different person around Claire, more gentle and calm, but at the same time he can’t turn his back on his family and the strict code they follow.
Ben Affleck directs and stars in this dimensional heist film that goes out of its way to establish its characters. Not one single person is wasted in the film, everyone serves towards the greater purpose of the film and that really makes it something of a gem. Everyone is conflicted, but their problems are realistically portrayed and not over-exaggerated. Doug is at a point in his life where he’s mostly good, but his dark past creeps out from time to time, by way of beating up thugs or mingling with an old flame, played by Blake Lively.
Even Jeremy Renner‘s character deserves some sympathy. He’s a family man who believes in protecting his brothers at all costs. He killed a man simply so Doug wouldn’t die and he’s served the time to prove it. It’s not that he doesn’t want to be doing something else with his life; it’s just that he doesn’t know what else to do. Bank robbing and pulling off big heists is the only thing he knows and the only thing he’s really good at.
And that is where Affleck’s strength as a director pokes its head. He knows how to build a film around likable and watchable characters. Everyone in the film has an important role and if you take even one minor character out of the equation, the whole thing becomes unbalanced. Luckily for us The Town is a very balanced film that’s only weakness might come from your personal preferences. If you’re not big into heist films that play it exactly how it really would in real life then you’re not going to like The Town.
It never stops to try and Hollywoodize things or make things glamorous and worry-free. Everything is centered in realism and it’s dark as hell to watch. You make important decisions in your life and whether there good or bad is irrelevant, because you’re just going to have to live with them. The Town gives us a look at both kinds of people; ones who constantly make bad decisions and ones who make good decisions. It also lets us look at that grey area, where there’s people who are torn between good and bad and that’s where the film becomes one of the best heist films I’ve ever seen.
Boston has never looked this intentionally ugly before with a newly encoded 1080p video transfer. The previous release looked fine, but this new transfer looks slightly better, with detail looking more vivid and colors more natural. The film takes place in a dirty and gritty world and this transfer replicates that experience, with both the good and the bad. There’s grain present throughout, but the colors still have a way of impressing. It’s a colorful transfer that mostly shines in its ability to show you difference between the filthy world of Charlestown vs. the bright and warm world where everyone else lives.
The film also features three separate 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio tracks. Each one is just as good as the last. These are perfect tracks, full of engaging noise and action. The dialogue scenes come across the main channels while most of the machine gun blasting and face-punching spreads out over the back channels. Not one moment is lost with these tracks, because everything is loud and crystal clear.
The Town comes to Blu-Ray with a boatload of content. Not just on the disc itself, but packaged in the box. The film comes in a huge box that features 3 discs via digibook and 48-page hardcover photo book, plus a folder containing photos, a poster and other collectible content. Here’s a full list of the features below.
- Theatrical Version
- Extended Cut
- Extended Cut with Alternate Ending (NEW)
- Theatrical Cut Audio Commentary
- Extended Cut Audio Commentary
- Extended Cut with Alternate Ending Audio Commentary (NEW)
- The Town: A Director’s Journey (HD) (NEW)
- Ben’s Boston Focus Points (HD)
- Extended Cut Scene Indicator
- Theatrical Trailer (HD)
- DVD Copy (Extended Cut with Alternate Ending)
- UltraViolet Digital Copy
This is the definitive set for The Town. Any person out there claiming to be a fan of the film will want to purchase this, even if they already have the previously released disc. This new Ultimate Collector’s Edition comes in a very sharp looking box with tons of collectible goodies and tons of actual bonus content. The real winner is the extended cut with alternate ending, because it’s the best cut of the film in existence. The extended cut adds more scenes that help tie the film together while the alternate ending packs the biggest punch. It captures the tone the best and it’s the way Ben Affleck wanted you to see it.
The alternate ending alone is worth the price tag, but Warner Brothers was kind enough to throw in new audio commentaries, a DVD copy of the film, an UltraViolet digital copy of the film and various other incentives.
I was originally upset at the quick turnaround for a pointless double dip, but after viewing the film and the contents the set comes with I can say that it’s a justified release. It’s not a quick cash grab or anything like that; it’s simply the ultimate version of the film in the best packaging possible. Easily recommended.