As an actor, Ben Affleck's name over a title has been a worrying sight in recent years. The 38-year-old's career in front of the camera has shown its share of promise - Good Will Hunting, Hollywoodland, Chasing Amy - but it's just as often disappointing. For every promising performance, there's a Pearl Harbor, a Daredevil or a Gigli.
In his twenties and early thirties we might have forgiven this sort of batting average in favor of his rugged movie-star looks and that David conquering Goliath story that saw him and Matt Damon take home 1998's Best Original Screenplay Oscar for Hunting. But there's a point at which promise can be declared unfulfilled, and Affleck seemed to have passed it. These days, ask a moviegoer if they'd like to see the new Ben Affleck film and they're likely to recoil and make vague excuses about visits to the hair salon.
2007's "New Ben Affleck Film", though, delivered on promises we didn't even know he'd made. Gone, Baby, Gone, Affleck's directorial debut, came out of nowhere to deliver a punch to the gut. Here was a mature, adult drama directed with a skill that belied its helmer's limited experience in that role. It was a statement of intent: Ben Affleck has more to offer.
But anyone can get lucky - with a cast that included Morgan Freeman and Ed Harris, not to mention Affleck's talented younger brother Casey, and with source material from Dennis Lehane, Gone, Baby, Gone had plenty of safety cards to play. With his follow-up, The Town, Affleck proves he's no one-trick pony. It's just as smart and well-executed as Affleck's last, and with him back in front of the camera too, it delivers on all that promise of Affleck's earlier career as an actor.