When I chose The Town (2010) to review for FBI myths and misconceptions, I remembered I had watched the movie when it first came out, but I had forgotten was how much I enjoyed it. The Town is an action-packed crime thriller, a pulse-raising police procedural, and a beautiful love story all rolled into one fantastic film. Ben Affleck and Jeremy Renner play the bank robbers, and Jon Hamm plays the FBI agent investigating them.The premise of The Town as described on IMDB is:
“A longtime thief, planning his next job, tries to balance his feelings for a bank manager connected to an earlier heist, and a hell-bent FBI Agent looking to bring him and his crew down.”
It’s a good movie that delivers a compelling story about crime and redemption. However, I’m here to educate and provide a reality check for those who want to learn about the real FBI. Therefore, although there are many things the movie got right, there are still a few things I can critique.
Now this may sound a little picky, but I was confused about the raid jacket worn by Jon Hamm’s character. The gold letters on the back read FBI Evidence Response Team. FBI agents working any type of violation can, as a collateral duty, also be a member of ERT. And, as we learned in Episode 221: Jean O’Connor – Evidence Response Teams, ERT, depending on the FBI office, the processing of a bank robbery crime scene can be handled by ERT. However, in this scene Jon Hamm is the actual case agent, so I’m not sure why he’s wearing that particular raid jacket (I warned you it was a picky point).
I was pleased that the film showed the working relationship between the FBI character and his Boston police detective partner (played by Titus Welliver), a task force officer with a desk in the FBI office. I’m always highlighting how the FBI works closely with law enforcement agencies, so I was happy to see that. There were a couple of scenes where the partners were briefing a squad room full of agents. Perhaps they were briefing members of the Special Operations Group (SOG), a unit with agents assigned full time to conduct surveillance. Otherwise, although squad mates are available to assist with surveillances, searches, or arrests, the co-case agents would work the investigation together, and run down most leads on their own. No need to involve the rest of the squad yet. They each have their own cases to solve.
Of course, this is a movie and I understand the need to create conflict and complications to move the story forward. Nevertheless, I’m always frustrated when the tool used is a scene where the FBI pulls rank on the locals. In The Town, that type of cliché scene was created to allow the bank robbers, surrounded by FBI agents and Boston police officers, to blend into the crowd and escape. I understand why the writers did it, but I don’t have to like. Besides that, the only criticism I have is the overly aggressive and coercive tactics used during interview and arrest scenes. But again, it’s a movie and a good one. The Town is currently streaming on Amazon Prime. You can watch the trailer here.
To learn how the FBI works with our law enforcement partners to solve bank and armored car robberies, listen or re-listen to these previously published case reviews: