Doug MacRay(Ben Affleck) is a bank robber who has lived all his life in Charlestown, Boston. He is assisted in these robberies by his longtime friends – James “Jem” Coughlin(Jeremy Renner), Albert “Gloansy” Magloan and Desmond “Dez” Elden. A part of proceeds from these robberies goes for “Fergie” Colm(Pete Postlethwaite), who is the kingpin of the area. Fergie runs a florist shop as a cover for his illegal activities.
During one of the robberies, Doug takes a bank manager Claire Keesey(Rebecca Hall) as a hostage to bargain with the police. After finding themselves safe, Doug and his friends drop Claire near the sea while fleeing. Later, the edgy and dangerous Jem discovers the address of Claire from her driving license. Claire lives a few blocks away from them in Charlestown. Now, the group is afraid she might give them away to the cops.
In order to prevent his friend from committing any irrational acts, Doug agrees to follow Claire. But, soon their lives get entwined and they start seeing each other. Eventually, Doug falls in love in Rebecca. As a result, Doug wants a different life. He wants to reconcile with his mother’s disappearance and his imprisoned father(Chris Cooper). But, the FBI is on Doug’s tracks in the form of Agent Adam Frawley(Jon Hamm).
Ben Affleck directs this thriller based on the novel Prince of Thieves by Chuck Hogan. The variant of this story is witnessed in the past movies of the same genre. It is the location, and the direction that sets this movie apart. The story is set in Boston. The heist scenes do not degenerate into action pieces. Instead it focuses on the desperate measures taken by the gang of robbers to escape. In between the heists, Ben also effectively builds drama. While we know the men are dirty, we are left to wonder how deep does it run. The women are victims as can be seen from Claire’s trauma and also the questions raised by Jem’s sister. The conversation between Doug and his dad in the jail and the confrontation between Jem and Doug stands out for the brilliant execution.
Ben Affleck delivers an excellent performance as Doug. Doug is a private person with a disturbing past. He wants to get out of Boston away from the life of crime. The way Ben underplays this complex character is fun to watch. The two scenes that stand out is when Ben opens up with Claire in the garden and when Ben unapologetically tells Jem that he wants out!
Jeremy Renner plays a easily excited Jem perfectly. Although Jeremy has played similar roles in the past, it is still a pleasure to watch him enact it on screen. Rebecca Hall as Claire portrays vulnerability and trauma endearingly on screen.
The movie is entertaining. But if you are watching this in the Indian multiplexes, the censors have massacred the movie by muting the four letter words. This results in frustration during the early stages of the movie where the audience keep guessing a piece of the conversation! The DVDs are not out in India. So, it is too early to comment on the DVD experience.