Affleck’s sophomore directorial effort after the impressive 2007 debut Gone Baby Gone (also set in Boston)
Like Gone Baby Gone there are a ton of glorious helicopter establishing shots- this isn’t The Lord of the Rings-level establishing shots but still—really impressive— both the beauty of it and that it’s a trait for Affleck as an auteur—we open with one, we get one before the Fenway heist set piece, and a dozen or more others
Certainly it has roots in Michael Mann’s Heat as a heist film (and a bit of the dueling Jon Hamm and Affleck characters). Some of the Boston set crime stuff has the pleasant whiff of The Departed and the ending is almost plucked directly from Shawshank. The ending has the reoccurring quote (this time it’s “This side or the other”), there’s the buried money, the voice-over letter, the hidden orange, the shot of Affleck making it in warm weather.
Back to back Academy Award noms for Renner in this coming off of The Hurt Locker (which is technically a 2008 film but didn’t get release and nom until 2009). He’s amazing here- on fire- a total loose cannon, chewing every scene and has the language, posture, scowl down—the “tuned up” line is great.
Affleck’s character breaking rock feels like he could be Chucky from Good Will Hunting like 10 years later.
Affleck knows Boston, the date in Dunkin’ Donuts, the look of the crew, the accents (Hamm has a great scene where he makes fun of it).
Really entertaining – it moves briskly, it has great characters, writing “If there’s a heaven, son—she ain’t in it”. Another success for Affleck as director and a strong resume builder for Renner as well.
There are authentic and superior moments of connection between Affleck and Rebecca Hall in the garden scenes. And of course two of the best scenes in the film are the encounters between the Affleck character and Renner when they fight, and when Pete Postlethwaite is really introduced (even if it’s just too late in the film). Very well executed scenes.