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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

The Town

By
John Mulderig
Source: Catholic News Service

Set in the insular Irish-American underworld of Charlestown, Mass. -- the bank-robbery plagued burg of the title—and adapted from Chuck Hogan's 2004 novel "Prince of Thieves," this is the story of failed pro hockey player-turned-thief Doug MacRay (Ben Affleck).

Despite a seriously intended and morally weighty script, director and co-writer (with Peter Craig and Aaron Stockard), Affleck's seamy heist drama "The Town" (Warner Bros.) fails to clear that hurdle, burdened as it is by excessive violence, gritty—though fleeting—sexuality and consistently foul-mouthed dialogue.

As demonstrated during the caper portrayed in the opening scenes, Doug is by far the most humane member of a so-far successful gang of careful and pitiless thieves who target the area's armored trucks as well as its bank vaults.

Doug's friend since childhood and cohort in crime, Jem (Jeremy Renner), by contrast, seems to enjoy violence for its own sake. A dangerous loose cannon, Jem beats one counting-house employee bloody with the butt of his gun before taking manager Claire Keesey (Rebecca Hall) as an impromptu hostage during the team's escape. Fearing that Claire, whom they quickly release, may be able to identify them, despite their disguises, the crew assigns Doug the task of stalking her.

Instead, the unwitting Claire strikes up a conversation that eventually leads to romance with her erstwhile captor. But the genuinely smitten Doug's hopes for a return to decency and a future life with his new love are hampered by the relentless pursuit of FBI agent Frawley (Jon Hamm)—whose intense focus on bagging the bad guys makes him less than scrupulous about observing the law—and by the machinations of ruthless local crime boss Fergie (Pete Postlethwaite).

Along the way to the subsequent hold-up that sees his squad don those jarring nun costumes, Doug beds Claire after what they both seem to consider a decent interval. Though their encounter is relatively discreet, an earlier scene of purely animalistic relations between Doug and Jem's drug-addled, slatternly sister Krista (Blake Lively), though not prolonged, is distastefully explicit.

The film contains considerable gunplay and some bloody beatings, brief graphic nonmarital sexual activity, glimpses of upper female and partial nudity, pervasive rough and crude language and irreverent imagery. The Catholic News Service classification is O—morally offensive. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R—restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.

*****
John Mulderig is on the staff of Catholic News Service.


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John Paul II: “Open wide the doors to Christ,” urged John Paul II during the homily at the Mass when he was installed as pope in 1978. <br /><br />Born in Wadowice, Poland, Karol Jozef Wojtyla had lost his mother, father and older brother before his 21st birthday. Karol’s promising academic career at Krakow’s Jagiellonian University was cut short by the outbreak of World War II. While working in a quarry and a chemical factory, he enrolled in an “underground” seminary in Kraków. Ordained in 1946, he was immediately sent to Rome where he earned a doctorate in theology. <br /><br />Back in Poland, a short assignment as assistant pastor in a rural parish preceded his very fruitful chaplaincy for university students. Soon he earned a doctorate in philosophy and began teaching that subject at Poland’s University of Lublin. <br /><br />Communist officials allowed him to be appointed auxiliary bishop of Kraków in 1958, considering him a relatively harmless intellectual. They could not have been more wrong! <br /><br />He attended all four sessions of Vatican II and contributed especially to its <em>Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World</em>. Appointed as archbishop of Kraków in 1964, he was named a cardinal three years later. <br /><br />Elected pope in October 1978, he took the name of his short-lived, immediate predecessor. Pope John Paul II was the first non-Italian pope in 455 years. In time, he made pastoral visits to 124 countries, including several with small Christian populations. <br /><br />He promoted ecumenical and interfaith initiatives, especially the 1986 Day of Prayer for World Peace in Assisi. He visited Rome’s Main Synagogue and the Western Wall in Jerusalem; he also established diplomatic relations between the Holy See and Israel. He improved Catholic-Muslim relations and in 2001 visited a mosque in Damascus, Syria. <br /><br />The Great Jubilee of the Year 2000, a key event in John Paul’s ministry, was marked by special celebrations in Rome and elsewhere for Catholics and other Christians. Relations with the Orthodox Churches improved considerably during his ministry as pope. <br /><br />“Christ is the center of the universe and of human history” was the opening line of his 1979 encyclical, <em>Redeemer of the Human Race</em>. In 1995, he described himself to the United Nations General Assembly as “a witness to hope.” <br /><br />His 1979 visit to Poland encouraged the growth of the Solidarity movement there and the collapse of communism in central and eastern Europe 10 years later. He began World Youth Day and traveled to several countries for those celebrations. He very much wanted to visit China and the Soviet Union but the governments in those countries prevented that. <br /><br />One of the most well-remembered photos of his pontificate was his one-on-one conversation in 1983 with Mehmet Ali Agca, who had attempted to assassinate him two years earlier. <br /><br />In his 27 years of papal ministry, John Paul II wrote 14 encyclicals and five books, canonized 482 saints and beatified 1,338 people. <br /><br />In the last years of his life, he suffered from Parkinson’s disease and was forced to cut back on some of his activities. <br /><br />Pope Benedict XVI beatified John Paul II in 2011, and Pope Francis canonized him in 2014. American Catholic Blog Lord, may I have balance and measure in everything—except in Love. —St. Josemaría Escrivá

 
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