Ben Affleck’s modern heist classic, based on Chuck Hogan’s novel Prince of Thieves, is almost entirely about aftermath, though it also features several exciting sequences of daringly staged robberies. For once, the gang of thieves is pretty solid – not prone to betrayal or flashy big spending or the other pitfalls that typically divide and destroy a team in a heist movie. Rather, it’s the team leader (Affleck) who’s the weak link, having fallen for the hostage (Rebecca Hall) the group briefly kidnapped during one robbery. He wants out, but tribal loyalties and obligations keep pulling him back in.
There have been a lot of Boston-based crime dramas in recent years, but native Affleck really offers a feel for the place, from its claustrophobic neighborhoods to its fierce clannishness to its sports mania. As in his recent Best Picture-winning Argo, he also has the good sense to surround himself with top-notch pros, from Hall to Jon Hamm to Pete Postlethwaite to Jeremy Renner (who puts some surprising twists on the stock loose-cannon character). He’s learned the one great lesson of the heist film: even if you can get away from the crime, you can never get away from yourself.
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