The Town (2010) Screenplay Analysis

The Town (2010), written by Peter Craig, Ben Affleck and Aaron Stockard, follows a gang of bank robbers in Boston, Massachusetts. Let’s analyze the screenplay.

Script Formatting Notes

  • Draft Read: “1.5.09”
  • Type: Spec
  • Page Count: 123
  • Reading Speed: Medium
  • Setting(s): Boston, Charlestown, Massachusetts
  • Plot Structure: Linear, Spanning multiple weeks
  • Genre(s): Gangster, Love
  • Theme(s): Loyalty, Love, Socioeconomic differences, Critique of society, Heist
  • Protagonist Change: Significant

Overall Thoughts

The Town comes dangerously late in the Boston-Irish-gangster-robbery-love-ruins-everything era. Perhaps worse, it’s cliche and doesn’t know exactly what it’s supposed to be. If there was a textbook high concept, bread-and-butter, safe play, it would be The Town.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with The Town. It doesn’t take any big swings for the Green Monster… even when it tries to. It combines two of the most classic cinema genres, gangsters and love. What can go wrong?


A band of bank robbers and thieves in Charlestown, Massachusetts (a nearby suburb of Boston) take on one final heist. One of the victims falls in love with the thief. It’s a drama told a million times. The only somewhat unique angle is not even the love story, but how intensely its drummed up.


The characters, by and large, are well-developed. Most stay in their own lanes. Doug, the second-generation criminal who wants out. Frawley, the straight FBI agent. Claire is probably the most dynamic, but even so, she mostly follows the girl who can’t help but failling in love with the flawed good guy trope.

Krista is a dicey character in just about every way. Her dialogue is white trash and comes across as outlandish at points, such as when describing her daughter to Frawley (Page 103):


(breaking down)

She’s retarded. She’s going to need things. Special schools. For her I’m doing this. It’s not me. Not for me.

That’s a bad line for a number of reasons. Obviously, by 2010, I can’t think of too many parents who would call their kid retarded. It’s also too drawn out for the final pivotal line in a conversation. I can’t really delve into why it doesn’t work beyond that, but it just doesn’t sound right.

Dialogue & Pacing

Here’s a line early in the screenplay (Page 43) between Claire and Doug:


No. I want to do what girls do: subtly go through your things. I want to rigle your medicine cabinet, stand for five minutes in your closet. Am I crazy? Are you married?

No, this isn’t a Seinfeld episode and it’s not a cheesy soap opera… I think. Let’s see what comes after it:



Am I married? No.


Well? That’s what I mean.


Just tell me if I’m making a mistake, Doug. I’ll still make it. I just want to know.



She holds his look.


Okay. You promised.

Well, it’s certainly a love story.

The script also tries to lay home to every down-on-your-luck Boston Landmark imaginable (Page 86):


…But your mother saw it clearer than he did. Doped up and hung herself with a wire down on Melnea Cass.

Other examples include the prison in Walpole and a bunch of blue-collar Mass towns. If you’re from the Boston area, it comes across as cliche.

Another odd aspect of the story: How fixated Doug is in regard to the FBI’s progress (realistic), an urge he satisfies by asking point-blank questions to Claire (unrealistic), which she doesn’t find suspicous (really unrealistic). How about this interrogation conversation on Page 24:


So you’re working with the FBI?


This ne guy, he’s been great.


He what, he calls you, checks in?




Are you happy with the investigation? Progress? Suspects?

This is followed by another half-page of just absurd questioning that any nitwit would find suspicious from a guy who barely knows you.

No additional notes on pacing.

Emotional Impact

The film (and not just the screenplay) is generally well-regarded. That comes down to the performances of many of the supporting cast members. The script, on the other hand, doesn’t feel particularly impactful. I usually get it mixed up with The Departed (2006).

The love theme, while cliche, is done quite well and probably resonates with some people. With that said, thirteen years later I hardly hear of this film (unless you are Joe Mazzulla). That should give some indication of its quality.

Best Part of The Script

Perhaps the final shootout which provides some fun action. Start on Page 104.