Originally released in 2010, “The Town” marks Ben Affleck’s first time working behind and in front of the camera simultaneously as actor/director. Paying homage to Affleck’s hometown of Boston, Massachusetts. Part gritty crime thriller, part mature drama, the movie is an impressive balance of both. With the Ultimate Collector’s Edition — this masterful story and its direction is on even greater display.
Based on the book “Prince of Thieves,” by Chuck Hogan, the story follows the pillaging and plundering of Charlestown native Doug MacRay (Ben Affleck), as he carries out expertly designed heists in the midst of his beloved city. Joined by best friend Jem (Jeremy Renner), and a few other townies, the gang is seemingly untouchable by the law. But when MacRay chooses to befriend the manager of the bank from which they stole, (Rebecca Hall), he begins to come to the realization that love and liberty from a lifestyle of decadence is the ultimate take for him. But in his plight to escape the town that bred the criminal in him, he must avoid the obsessive FBI director (Jon Hamm) and those he owes his life to.
What initially makes this Blu-ray/DVD update of “The Town” even worth existing is the extended & alternate cut of the movie that Affleck has crafted together. In the accompanying material he states, “…I truly believe if a longer cut works, it often feels shorter.” Affleck is right, as the extended scenes are obvious, intriguing, and eye-opening. Rather than elongate the story, they feed into an entirely different mood of a movie entirely. Whereas the theatrical release is sharp, jolting, and emotionally manipulative — this film plays out like a slow burn, with a biting conclusion that exudes a higher sense of reality.
Listening to the various director featurettes, Affleck is very extremely affluent, able to explain his process and perspective as writer, director, and finally actor. It is obvious that he viewed the original cut of “The Town” very studio censored while his extended version is reminiscent of the style and emotional significance he displayed in his debut directing feature, “Gone Baby Gone.”
The Blu-ray offers two unique portions of extras. On disk one, along with the extended cut is the featurette, “The Town: A Directors Journey.” Here you will find Ben Affleck speaking to the various new scenes and his thought process behind what he originally chose to remove, and why he added it back for the Collector’s Edition. On disk two are a series of segments that can be seen live with the film or separate, called “Ben’s Boston.” Each of these guide the viewer through the pinnacle moments and accomplishments of the film, with interviews from supporting cast such as Jon Hamm, Blake Lively, Slaine, and Titus Welliver. Some of the most interesting insight comes from the screenwriters and FBI consultants.
The Ultimate Collectors Edition would not be complete without the physical materials that are found within the darkly themed box. At the top is a personal letter from Affleck thanking the reader for taking the time to view the extended cut and its personal significance to him as director. This is followed by small hardbound booklet highlighting each of cast members and elements that compose the film. The booklet is nicely designed with a multitude of production photos. Next comes a folder that contains handcrafted documents — a stack of FBI cards that each feature a different robbery with details and photos. Some are from the film, others are not, but still connected to the storyline. We also get profile cards of each of the suspects from the film. Most interesting is the small folder that contains Desmond Elden’s (Owen Burke) employee record from Vericom. As the technical expert of the gang, Desmond’s record is very finely crafted to integrate into the happenings of the film. To finish off the materials, the package contains replicas of the tattoo Jeremy Renner’s character Jem, sports on the back of his neck, and a large map poster that pinpoints the events of the movie that take place across Charlestown.
“The Town” was already a display of superior direction and writing from Affleck, melding action with finely-tuned drama. The release of the Ultimate Collector’s Edition is anything but superfluous, and only helps to complete the grand picture. You can sense the passionate work that was dedicated to the project from all involved, especially due to the connection many of the cast and crew shared as natives of Boston. For lovers of the film, or even those that appreciate the multi-talented work of Affleck, this collection is an absolute must have.