Ben Affleck returns to Boston for The Town, his directorial follow-up to Gone Baby Gone, and in the process finds a way to mildly energize a script awash in crime-film clichés. In what amounts to a Heat-lite saga concerned only with the criminal side of the coin, Affleck stars as Doug MacRay, a thief in low-rent Charlestown, Boston – the apparent bank robbery capital of the world – who, during a heist, takes bank manager Claire (Rebecca Hall) hostage and, days after letting her go, strikes up a romantic relationship with her. Claire is Doug’s shot at fulfilling his desire to turn over a new leaf, a goal frustrated by his loyalty to pal James (Jeremy Renner), a violent psycho who years earlier took a 7-year prison rap for Doug, as well as an FBI agent (Jon Hamm) hot on his trail. A tale of brotherhood, loyalty (to friend and self), love and sacrifice based on Chuck Hogan’s novel “Prince of Thieves” and gussied up in Bahstan accents and faux-noir fatalism, Affleck’s sophomore behind-the-camera effort doesn’t even pretend to reinvent the wheel. Rather, it simply treats its stock dynamics and themes with respectful professionalism. Robert Elswit’s cinematography provides the proceedings with an alluring big-budget sheen, and Affleck’s cast – which also includes Pete Postlethwaite, Chris Cooper, Titus Welliver and a surprisingly messy-sexy Blake Lively – strikes a proper balance between earnest gravity and outsized panache. As an actor, Affleck acquits himself nicely even though his oh-so-noble protagonist’s dilemma is cockamamie fantasy and destined to be resolved in a neat-and-tidy fashion, just as his direction is clean and muscular but can’t shake its inherent Mann-photocopy stylings. Embellishing its hackneyed construction with overcooked local flavor and proficient larger-than-life performances (especially from the nuanced Hall), The Town accomplishes its modest aim of being a slick genre retread, if nothing more.