The Town Ultimate Collector’s Edition Blu-ray Review: Double Dipping? You Bet Your Affleck It Is!

After making his feature-length directorial debut in 2007 with his crime drama Gone Baby Gone, many people started to believe that actor Ben Affleck was finally on his way to redeeming himself for movies like Pearl Harbor, Paycheck, and several other abominations that should have been titled Paycheck since that’s all they really were. And then, in 2010, Ben ventured once more into the territory of onscreen thievery with The Town — a film based on Chuck Hogan’s novel Prince of Thieves, and one that was well-praised by moviegoers and critics alike.

Personally, I thought The Town was an okay feature. In case you missed every single review or report on the film, like this one, it’s about a professional thief in Boston named Doug (Affleck) who wants to get the hell out of Dodge (well, Charlestown) after his next major score and leave all of the lowlife degenerates he’s come to know as family and friends behind. Who can blame the guy, right? Well, that’s easier said than done, especially once his sadistic white trash colleague (Jeremy Renner) goes against Doug’s rules and administers a bit o’ violence to a hostage during a bank holdup.

Yes, of course it’s a dumb move on his part — especially once Doug starts to “investigate” the life of an attractive bank manager (Rebecca Hall), whom they are forced to take hostage for a short time. His reasoning is straightforward enough: he wants to make sure she doesn’t have a clue to the identities of her masked temporary kidnappers. She doesn’t, but that doesn’t stop the guilt-ridden Doug from forming a relationship with the gal — something that is doomed to fail. Meanwhile, a local crime boss (the late, great Pete Postlethwaite) is applying some “friendly” pressure for Doug and his boys to pull another job, and the FBI (led by Jon Hamm) are beginning to put the pieces together.

Does it sound a mile on the depressing to you, kids? Well, I certainly found it to be. I originally saw it in the cinema, to wit I briefly contemplated whether or not I wanted to go on living once I got out to my car. I also thought it was a long movie, too (125 minutes) — and joked to my friend that I went to see it with that I couldn’t wait for the Extended Cut that would surely surface on home video a few months later. As it turned out, I was right: a 150min Extended Edition hit Blu-ray in late 2010. And now, nearly a year-and-a-half later, Warner has given us the Ultimate Collector’s Edition of The Town: a three-disc set that contains the original Theatrical cut, the aforementioned Extended edit, and the same aforementioned Extended edit of the film that boasts an alternate ending.

I suppose the big question on everybody’s mind here is “Does the alternate ending make that big of a difference?” In my opinion, yes. Without divulging much, I shall say that it certainly does fit the tone of the film — and I think this is the only way you can see said new finale — which begs another question: “Double dipping?” You bet your Affleck it is, but I have to hand it to Warner Home Video for allowing Ben to revisit his film yet again (he wasn’t overly satisfied with the second cut of the film), but I just hope he doesn’t go all George Lucas from here on in and release more box sets of The Town every year. But, when one stops to look at all the nifty bonus items that come with this set — a letter from Ben about the new edit of the movie, a map, mugshots, a booklet, a rub-on tattoo patterned after the one Jeremy Renner dons onscreen (yes, let’s promote white trashiness, Ben), a 48-page photo book, and several more tangible items — it’s unlikely.

Frankly, I think the set falls under the “overkill” category (though I’m surprised there weren’t any exclusive action figures included: I would love to have a little Pete Postlethwaite figure complete with shears), but it’s still a pretty nifty collection for any enthusiastic fan of the movie to enjoy — and the new ending of the lengthier cut of the already-long two-hour-plus feature is an appropriate one. As to whether or not you want to go out and buy the movie again is entirely up to you.

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Luigi Bastardo

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