The Town is about a gang of bank robbers from Charlestown in Boston led by Ben Affleck’s Doug MacRay, who falls in love with a bank robbery hostage.
- Charlestown may not deserve its criminal reputation anymore, as director Ben Affleck admits that he portrayed it as it used to be rather than its current reality.
- The FBI suspects Doug and his crew due to their skilled execution of a bank heist, which leads to a pattern of absences discovered through comparing sick days with robbery dates.
- Krista, as the crew’s weak link, is pressured by the FBI through her history of drug selling to give up information about the heist at Fenway Park, leading to their downfall.
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The ending of The Town shows Ben Affleck’s Doug MacRay escaping to Florida to avoid the FBI, but Affleck’s alternate ending of The Town plays out very differently. The Town is the second feature film directed by Affleck from a screenplay written by Affleck, Peter Craig, and Aaron Stockard, featuring performances by Affleck, Jon Hamm, Jeremy Renner, Blake Lively, Rebecca Hall, and more.
The Town is about a small crew of bank robbers and armored car thieves from Charlsetown, an area of Boston notorious for producing a large number of bank robbers and other criminals. After robbing a big bank, Doug MacRay (Ben Affleck) develops feelings for an employee of the bank they take hostage, Claire (Rebecca Hall), and wants to leave his criminal lifestyle behind as the FBI, led by Adam Frawley (Jon Hamm), closes in. Meanwhile, Doug’s partner in crime and childhood friend James Coughlin (Jeremy Renner) is eager to do even more heists, despite the heat from the FBI.
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Is Charlestown Really Full of Bank Robbers?
It may not deserve its criminal reputation anymore.
The opening scene of The Town features text establishing Charlstown’s history as a breeding ground for criminals, saying the Boston neighborhood has “produced more bank robbers and armored car thieves than anywhere in the world.” and that the trade was passed down generationally from father to son. When The Town was released, there was some question as to the true significance of Charlestown’s bank robber population, although The Town is loosely based on Chuck Hogan’s novel Prince of Thieves, which was inspired by Charlston’s reputation from the 80s and 90s.
Affleck did extensive research to make The Town‘s heists and robberies as accurate as possible, although he admitted in an interview with The Ringer that modern Charleston might not deserve the same reputation: “sort of pretended that Charlestown was still the way it used to be. But it really wasn’t. It was taking a period of time that had passed and pretending it was still a reality.” The Town isn’t based on any particular real-life criminals, bet Affleck did take inspiration from real crimes, and one bank robber has claimed Affleck modeled Doug MacRay off of heists he committed when he was younger.
How Did Doug’s Crew Become FBI Suspects?
Doug and his crew didn’t leave any evidence.
Doug, James, Gloansy, and Dez execute a nearly flawless bank heist in the opening scene of the movie, so how did Frawley get suspicious of them in the first place? Frawley starts his search by busting a low-level criminal in Charlestown who tells him the crew that robbed the bank included someone who “gets into the junction box,” which Frawley learns is a skill someone would have to work for Vericom security to learn. Frawley then gets access to Vericom’s employee files to compare recorded sick days against bank robbery dates, finding a conspicuous pattern of absences with Desmond Elden, AKA Dez, which leads to known associates Doug, James, and Gloansy.
Frawley quickly identifies Doug as the ringleader, but the trail goes cold there since Frawley doesn’t have any actual evidence he can act on, and Doug quickly spots the FBI surveillance and knows not to incriminate himself. After the truck heist, Frawley tells his team to find “something that looks like a print” from the burned-out getaway van so he can justify bringing in Doug and his crew for questioning. Of course, Frawley is stretching the law since the FBI doesn’t actually have a usable print, otherwise they’d have actionable evidence. Instead, they can only bring Doug and his crew in for questioning, hoping one of them slips up.
Why Did Krista Tell the Cops About The Fenway Park Heist?
She was the crew’s only weak link.
As a kid, after Doug’s mom disappeared and his dad, Stephen MacRay (Chris Cooper) was put in prison, the Coughlins took him in and he grew up with James and Krista as virtual brother and sister. Growing up he had an on-again-off-again relationship with Krista, during which time she became pregnant with Shyna, although Doug doesn’t believe he’s the father of Krista’s daughter because Krista was promiscuous during that time. Nonetheless, Krista and James think Doug is the father and expect him to stay in Charlestown and take care Krista and Shyna.
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Frawley identifies Krista as the weak link and uses her history of selling drugs to pressure her into giving up information. Initially, she resists, but after Frawley uses Claire and the diamond necklace Doug gave her to make Krista jealous, she becomes more distraught. Krista gets in a fight with Doug about his plans to leave with Claire and then gets in her car with Shyna while under the influence of drugs and alcohol and gets arrested after crashing. Frawley tells her he can make the state take Shyna from her because of it. Since Doug plans on leaving anyway, Shyna tells Frawley and the FBI about the heist at Fenway Park.
Why Did Claire Warn Doug About the FBI’s Trap?
Did she actually forgive him?
Doug and his gang robbed Claire’s bank, violently assaulted her manager, and traumatized her by briefly kidnapping her as insurance. She had every reason to dislike him and want him caught, but when Frawley uses her as bait, she signals Doug to escape. Doug was initially upset, believing she was cooperating with the FBI to lure him in to be captured, but when she told him “it’ll be just like one of my sunny days,” referencing her dislike of sunny days because of memories of her brother’s death, he knew she still loved him and wanted to help him escape.
Claire had already told Doug to leave her alone after Frawley showed her his mug shot, but Doug was brutally honest with her about his life and his desire to leave Charlstown behind, and she’d softened back up. Doug was still responsible for one of the most traumatic moments of her life, although it was James who assaulted the bank manager against Doug’s wishes, and he’d demonstrated a sense of morality outside his criminal behavior, so she somehow found a way to excuse him kidnapping her and then lying to her about who he was.
The Town’s Ending and True Meaning Explained
Doug finally moves on.
The town ends with Doug MacRay slipping out of Boston on a train with shots of him looking out over the water from a shack in Florida as Affleck’s voice reads the note he left Claire along with a pile of money. The note says “maybe if I go I can stop looking,” referring to him looking for his mother after she went missing. It’s revealed that the skating rink at the boys and girls club, which hadn’t had ice for years because the city hadn’t taken care of it, now has people playing hockey again, just like Doug used to, thanks to an anonymous donation in the “memory of Doris MacRay,” Doug’s mother. While Doug could have made the donation, it’s implied that’s how Claire used the money he gave her.
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Doug had learned from Fergie the Florist (Pete Postlethwaite) that his mom had been hooked on drugs and died by suicide, meaning his dad’s unwillingness to talk about it had always been to protect Doug, meaning he was keeping two secrets in prison: the identity of his co-conspirators, and the brutal nature of his wife’s death. Doug’s letter ends with a quote his dad used after he talked about moving on from the pain of Doug’s mom, “I know I’ll see you again, this side or the other.” Doug also left a tangerine for Claire, referring to their conversation where he said he wanted to go to Tangerine, Florida, where his grandma used to have a restaurant.
Doug was a product of Charlestown, so for him, leaving his life of crime meant leaving home for the first time and finally leaving his mom and his dad behind. Knowing the truth about his mom, that she hadn’t actually abandoned him, and coming to terms with his relationship with his dad, Doug is able to leave all that behind and start over. The Town doesn’t reveal if Claire eventually goes to Tangerine to find him or not, but the point of Doug’s message is that he’ll carry her with him wherever he goes because of the influence she had on his life.
The Town’s Alternate Ending Explained
Doug’s past life catches up with him.
While The Town‘s theatrical cut had an open-ended and hopeful ending, Ben Affleck also released an extended cut of the movie with around 25 minutes of additional footage, including additional dialogue in some scenes in addition to entirely new scenes expanding or adding to the movie’s subplots. One version of the extended cut has the same ending as the theatrical cut, but there’s another version of the extended cut that’s nearly identical other than the fact that it has an much darker alternate ending where Doug is killed by other Charlstown criminals he’d beaten up earlier before he can get to the train.
The Town’s alternate ending where Doug dies is closer to Chuck Hogan’s novel Prince of Thieves, which The Town is based on.
While the theatrical ending highlights Doug moving on from his life of crime, writing “you still have to pay the price for the things you’ve done” in his letter to Claire, the alternate ending shows exactly the opposite. Instead of riding off into the sunset, Doug suffers the consequences of his life of crime right before he finally quits, ironically punctuated by the fact that it’s not the FBI that catches him in the end, but a low-level criminal Doug beat up for unrelated reasons earlier in the movie.