The hostage turns out to be Claire Keesey (Rebecca Hall), the bank’s assistant manager. MacRay follows her in an effort to see if she knows anything about them, soon developing a romantic interest in her. Not knowing who he really is, she agrees to go out with him. The film centers on MacRay’s duplicity both to Clare and Jem. With Claire he finds some of the life he has been seeking. She represents a quiet normalcy he has never experienced. He longs to leave Charlestown behind, taking Claire with him. His loyalty and his ties to Fergus Colm prevent him from doing so. Jem does not know or want anything other than the life he has. MacRay goes along with Jem thinking each heist will be his last. In the meantime Claire is constantly questioned by FBI agent Adam Frawley (John Hamm) who is determined to pin MacRay for his crimes.
What’s best about The Town is the gritty realism Affleck achieves. The actors are so immersed in their roles it seems as though they have spent their lives in Charlestown. In truth, some of them have. Affleck has peppered the supporting cast with Boston and Charlestown natives. Even those not from the area blend in quite well. Renner in particular is very convincing as the loose cannon who could jeopardize everything. The character is actually a bit of a cliché. Affleck compares the character to Joe Pesci in Goodfellas, but there are countless hotheads like Jem throughout crime movie history.
Jem is the type of guy most of us wouldn’t want to know. He seems as though he could snap at any minute and would take no greater pleasure than bashing in the face of someone who crosses him. Even when attempting charm, Jem’s true nature bubbles just under the surface. Despite the predictability of the character, Renner manages to inject his performance with a brutal honesty. Unlike MacRay, Jem is not conflicted about his life. He knows his place in life, and he unflinchingly accepts it. In a scene where MacRay tells Jem he wants out of the life, it is Jem who feels betrayed. Renner allows a genuine hurt to seep through the bravado.
The extended cut fleshes out MacRay’s own perception of the consequences of his actions. He had believed he and his friends committed their crimes without really hurting anyone. They just wanted the money. His relationship with Claire shows him another side of life. It shows him the side that is affected by the crimes perpetrated on them. The cut also explores the idea of karma. Doug tells Claire that bad people do bad things and bad things happen to them. He’s not going to cry over it. He doesn’t seem aware at the time of what karma may have in store for him.