If filmmaker John Ford (THE SEARCHERS, STAGECOACH) sought to create a particular vision of the American West, actor/co-writer/director Ben Affleck (GONE BABY GONE) would seem to be attempting a similar feat for his native Boston. Beantown landmarks have a prominent role in this effective movie that finds Affleck’s bank robber torn between his growing affection for a young woman (Rebecca Hall), a hostage in one of his jobs, and his loyalty to his criminal peers. Most of the familiar conventions associated with heist films are present including the veteran out for “one last score,” the relentless FBI agent (Jon Hamm) intent on rounding up the bad guys, and assorted well-staged hold-ups and chases choreographed by Alexander Witt’s second unit direction. All of this is executed with great aplomb even though the screenplay dictates what happens in action sequences in which there’s lots of gunfire at close range without anybody getting hit until it’s time for them to bite the dust. The ensemble cast is excellent with special kudos to Jeremy Renner (THE HURT LOCKER) as Affleck’s trigger-happy associate and Blake Lively (SISTERHOOD OF THE TRAVELING PANTS), playing against type, as a drug-addicted single mom. Technically, the film benefits from Robert Elswit’s gritty cinematography as well as Dylan Tichenor’s extremely tight editing. Even if it isn’t the Oscar bait its distributors want it to be, THE TOWN is well acted, well directed and very well written. It doesn’t add anything new to the caper film genre but it does appreciate the elements that are found in the best ones while executing them with a deft hand. CRITIC’S GRADE: B+

MOVIES TO WATCH FOR IN OCTOBER: LET ME IN (October 1), THE SOCIAL NETWORK (October 1), BURIED (October 8), LIFE AS WE KNOW IT (October 8), SECRETARIAT (October 8), JACKASS 3D (October 15), RED (October 15), HEREAFTER (October 22), PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 2 (October 22), MY SOUL TO TAKE (October 29)