Patriots Day (2016): Uncomfortable, Yet Admirable
The next Peter Berg-Mark Wahlberg team up movie has finally hit wide in theaters. Patriots Day, like many of my other reviews recently, has been widely acclaimed as one of the best movies of the awards season by many critics in the industry. The following review will be spoiler free so that you can make up your own mind as to whether this assertion is correct or not. Please feel free to comment with your own thoughts!
Patriots Day is, as mentioned above, directed by Peter Berg and contains a star-studded cast with actors such as Mark Wahlberg, J.K. Simmons, John Goodman, Michelle Monaghan, and Kevin Bacon. The film depicts the events of the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013 and the aftermath about the manhunt for the bombers and the toll that the events took on the city of Boston. The movie is meant to celebrate the courage of those afflicted by the horrible event as well as celebrate the strength of a city coming together.
When I first heard of this movie being made, I was a bit apprehensive. The first thought that came to mind was, “too soon?” It’s definitely a worthy discussion to have considering the bombing occurred just a few short years ago. This idea also begs the question, when is the right time to create a movie about a disastrous real event? People are still reeling with this tragedy since it only happened a little over three years ago. Did Peter Berg and the creative team start writing the script soon after the event happened considering it takes multiple years for movies to be made? Patriots Day is clearly walking on shaky territory.
However, if there is a director to undertake this project, Peter Berg would easily be at the top of the list for directors that I trust to tell a respectful story that honors the people involved. His last two movies with Mark Wahlberg, Lone Survivor and Deepwater Horizon (you can read my review of Deepwater Horizon here), handled heavy topics with a ton of grace and respect for those fallen souls. Berg also regularly honors the armed forces through multiple charities and events and always puts the real people involved with events depicted in his movies first when marketing his movies. He’s clearly a stand-up man as well as a solid director.
Approximately two hours and ten minutes later, I can confidently say that Patriots Day is not only incredibly respectful, but also a very solid movie to boot.
What I Liked
Peter Berg is easily the star of this movie as he again handles hard hitting subject matter with the up-most grace and respect for the victims of the bombing and their families. Berg does a really nice job moving to different victims, members of law enforcement, and politicians to give a very well-rounded story that is as gripping as it is touching. I thought it was a very nice touch how Berg pieced real news clips into the narrative to add to the realism.
Each character is also treated as a real person when they easily could have descended into two-dimensional cliched stereotypes. The best example of this is surprisingly with the portrayal of the bombers. It was a razor thin line to walk, but Berg succeeded in giving theses monsters some traits without stripping either of them of the hate they rightfully deserve for their terrible acts against humanity. Berg has definitely found his niche as a director.
What I Didn’t Like
If there’s one issue I have with the film it’s Mark Wahlberg’s character Tommy Saunders. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with Wahlberg’s performance (in fact, he’s actually very good in the movie). But from doing my research on the film, I learned that Tommy Saunders is actually a fictional character and has been described as an amalgamation of different police officers that took part in the investigation. A film that is so grounded in realism and is meant to honor the real people involved should take on more actors to play each police officer to create an ensemble cast rather than shoehorning a star into the movie. Wahlberg could have played one of these parts, but I think having one actor replace multiple, real policemen is a bit of a misstep for the tone that was set for the film.
What I Liked…Continued
But this film as a whole is incredibly tense and expertly told. There are moments in this film that cover events of the manhunt for the two bombers that I was not aware of that really made my heart race. Each point of the manhunt is told very well without feeling stylized. Everything feels like true events but also transfers well to a gripping film making Patriots Day truly rewarding film to encounter.
Patriots Day, however, pulls absolutely zero punches. If you are squeamish, this movie may not be for you as it is unafraid to show the damage that shrapnel from the two bombs caused to the surrounding runners and patrons. Other than the one issue I mentioned early, the film really attempts to stay true to the story and show what needs to be seen.
But more than anything, Patriots Day is a celebration of people coming together and overcoming atrocities of terrorism. While people will have trouble re-watching this film, it is certainly worth your time at the theater as the film is truly to honor all those involved in the bombings and its aftermath. It’s a film that puts respect for the events over making a profit, a trait that is worthy of our respect. Patriots Day get an A-. It’s an emotional, heart-wrenching movie that never feels like exploitation.
Thanks so much for reading! Have you seen Patriots Day? Comment below with your thoughts. Better yet, what’s your favorite Mark Wahlberg movie? Feel free to comment your favorite below!
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