The city of Boston has served as a backdrop for many notable crime films, especially over the last decade. Following The Departed, Mystic River and Ben Affleck’s impressive directorial debut Gone Baby Gone, The Town easily earns its place among these films as another Boston-centric drama and a superb suspenseful thriller in its own right.

Set in the town of Charlestown , a hotbed of bank robbers and Irish gangsters; The Town focuses on a crew of outlaws that specialises in looting banks. The group is headed by Doug MacRay (Affleck) and his hot-tempered childhood friend James Coughlin (Renner), who has served a nine-year sentence behind bars. James jeopardises the group’s operations with his paranoid measures on their last job when he takes the bank manager Claire (Hall) as a hostage, and even entertains the thought of executing her just in case she might recognise their voices in the future.

Doug interjects and decides to take care of the matter on his own, eventually striking up an unlikely romance with the emotionally vulnerable Claire. Meanwhile, FBI agent Frawley (Hamm) is conducting a fierce investigation, trying to link Doug and his crew to the string of robberies that they have committed; and he’s getting close.

The Town pays extra attention to little details that other films might have ignored; producing an overall sense of realism. That attention to detail is also what makes the characters stand out. Affleck wisely downplays the romantic subplot in favour of the action set pieces that fit organically into the narrative.

Jeremy Renner’s controlled performance is the most memorable, playing a frustrated and suicidal gangster that never quite crosses the line into insanity. Renner revels in his menace, but the humanity that he projects gives weight to his impulsive actions.

The predicaments seen here are nothing that we haven’t seen before, but Affleck’s assured filmmaking paired with the abrasive performances from the ensemble give The Town an electric kick, shooting it to gripping heights.

This film is quite a refreshing cinematic experience, when most other films have taken on an endless one-upping contest, trying to find the ultimate hook or unpredictable twist. What The Town proves is that novelty was never the core driver of a film’s success.