Having washed out of pro hockey — he was a bid deal with the Boston Bruins for a split second — Doug returned to the Town and settled into a life of crime, planning heists which gradually became big enough to need a crew. After the opening back robbery, Jem decides to take the bank manager, Claire Keesey Rebecca Hall hostage and as Doug checks up on her after the job, he finds himself falling for her.
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His sophomore effort is far more crowd-pleasing, but no less interesting. Like in the book, there are three major heists, and like in the book, the first and third are a bank and Fenway Park, respectively. Affleck, a filmmaker and movie star — oh, and Academy Award-winning screenwriter for Good Will Hunting — knows that in movies, three is the golden number. It also applies directly to storytelling at large, as any frustrated writer desperate to boil their story into Three Acts certainly knows.
Aristotle said it quite simply in his Poetics: stories have a beginning, a middle and an end. And you can start anywhere. Okay, so the number three works.
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This is where Affleck improves on the source material. Affleck knows an audience likes to be on the same level of the action in a crime movie… for the most part.
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He lets us know more — or less — as the scene requires. Movies like this engage us with their procedure. In the book, Doug cases a suburban movie theater, which his crew robs after a big weekend… can you guess why it was changed? I suspect even the very first draft of the script never included the movie theater job. Think about it: are you ever quite as vulnerable as in a dark movie theater, staring slack-jawed at giant transforming robots pounding the living shit out of downtown L.
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The movie version replaced this multiplex robbery with a streamlined armored-car job, followed by a superior car chase sequence. In the book, MacCray and Frawley are never in the same room until the very, very end. In The Town , Affleck wisely ditches that concept. Doug is arrested after the armored car gig and hauled into an interrogation room.
Chuck Hogan never allows these characters to directly interact in the novel, but there are plenty of close shaves. Frawley carefully, viciously keys the living shit out of it. In the book, Frawley is quite aggressively after her, even taking her out a few times.
Doug pursues her relentlessly, having built her up as his bright, shining hope of a normal life.
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