A staggering 22 years ago, Ben Affleck and Matt Damon got Boston almost right. Right enough, at least, for a certain small section of the city. Their film Good Will Hunting, which they wrote and starred in, felt true enough to a portion of my hometown that nearly everyone agreed theyd nailed it, and turned them movie stars as thanks.
In the years since, Damon has largely stayed away from any further Boston mythologizing—The Departed was his one major return visit—while Affleck pursued it further in his crime films Gone Baby Gone and The Town, depicting a city of vice and grit in a manner that was compelling, if not always convincing. Whatever organic realness Good Will Hunting had was lost to the easy pleasures of reliably satisfying cliché.
Which brings us to City on a Hill, a new Showtime series executive produced by Affleck and Damon, about crime-ridden early 1990s Boston and a pair of unlikely allies who aim to sorta clean it up. Its maybe the most Boston-y thing the boys from Cambridge (which isnt Boston, technically!) have done—if only because its trying to be really about Boston, its tribes and systems and idiosyncratic version of corruption.
There are moments in the three episodes of City on a Hill that Ive seen where the show is maybe aspiring to ape The Wires sharp and insightful observation of Baltimore, a little of the HBO dramas Dickensian sprawl. But this series, created by Chuck MacLean (based on an idea of Afflecks, with producing help from Tom Fontana and Barry Levinson), is mostly a more sensational thing, full of tough-guy bravado and swaggering antiheroism. Its engaging enough for all its hammy scenery-chewing and predictable tropes. If the show is aiming to be something more—an elevated survey of a complicated city, touching on race, violence, and the justice system—it certainly falls short: it looks good, but it cant quite pass as prestige.
The action is at its biggest whenever Kevin Bacon, playing a coked-up drunkard of an F.B.I. agent named Jackie Rohr, is given a mound of speech and left to tear into it with a scattershot Boston accent. Its a pleasure watching Bacon, still vulpine under the shambles, chomp his way through this show. Sure, the role is silly, and weve seen many versions of it before. But we havent seen Kevin Bacon do it—at least not at this particular timbre. Maybe ten years ago, people might have made a big deal about an actor of Bacons stature mucking it upRead More – Source