Reading the Screen: The Town
Posted by: David Pitt
I finally got to see The Town, Ben Affleck’s splendid movie based on Chuck Hogan’s 2004 novel Prince of Thieves.
Like Dennis Lehane’s Gone, Baby, Gone (which Affleck also made into a fine film), Prince of Thieves is a gritty Boston crime story. Doug MacRay is the leader of a small group of hold-up men. The book opens with MacRay and his cohorts pulling a bank heist and taking the bank’s manager hostage.
They release the manager, but MacRay, finding himself strangely drawn to her (and wanting to be sure she can’t lead the FBI straight to him), arranges to meet her. They begin a relationship that could be Doug’s ticket out of the life he’s made for himself.
Affleck, who co-wrote the movie with Peter Craig and Aaron Stockard, makes several changes to the book, including a major alteration to the end of the story. I’m not telling you what that is, but, when you see the movie, you’ll see that it’s an entirely appropriate change — in fact the movie wouldn’t have worked if Affleck had kept Hogan’s original ending.
Affleck mostly eliminated Hogan’s very interesting sub-lot concerning the bank manager and an FBI investigator, and I sort of wish he hadn’t done that, but I understand why: it might have been a distraction.
If you haven’t seen The Town, you really ought to. Here’s the trailer: