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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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Augustine of Hippo: A Christian at 33, a priest at 36, a bishop at 41: Many people are familiar with the biographical sketch of Augustine of Hippo, sinner turned saint. But really to get to know the man is a rewarding experience. 
<p>There quickly surfaces the intensity with which he lived his life, whether his path led away from or toward God. The tears of his mother, the instructions of Ambrose and, most of all, God himself speaking to him in the Scriptures redirected Augustine’s love of life to a life of love. </p><p>Having been so deeply immersed in creature-pride of life in his early days and having drunk deeply of its bitter dregs, it is not surprising that Augustine should have turned, with a holy fierceness, against the many demon-thrusts rampant in his day. His times were truly decadent—politically, socially, morally. He was both feared and loved, like the Master. The perennial criticism leveled against him: a fundamental rigorism. </p><p>In his day, he providentially fulfilled the office of prophet. Like Jeremiah and other greats, he was hard-pressed but could not keep quiet. “I say to myself, I will not mention him,/I will speak in his name no more./But then it becomes like fire burning in my heart,/imprisoned in my bones;/I grow weary holding it in,/I cannot endure it” (Jeremiah 20:9).</p> American Catholic Blog Pope Francis said, “The Church gives us the life of faith in Baptism: that is the moment in which she gives birth to us as children of God, the moment she gives us the life of God, she engenders us as a mother would.”

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