Released: January 2017
Director: Peter Berg
Run Time: 133 Minutes
Distributor: Lionsgate Studios
Mark Wahlberg: Tommy Saunders
Kevin Bacon: Special Agent Richard DesLauriers
John Goodman: Commissioner Ed Davis
J.K. Simmons: Sergeant Jeffrey Pugliese
Alex Wolff: Dzhokar Tarnaev
Themo Melikidze: Tamerlan Tarnaev
Ever since 9/11, terrorism has unfortunately become something that you hear about on a daily basis through news, YouTube or other forms of media. When 9/11 happened, it woke America up to the unfortunate reality that anybody could become a target for terrorists, extremists or other forms of evil. But what also happened on that day was a strength and unity from across the world that nobody had seen in a long, long time. Terrorists don’t seem to understand that when they try to tear us down, we as a people and a nation have a very strong tendency to band together and bounce back. That is who we and what we are. No matter what your political or religious beliefs are, it is important that we are stronger together than we are divided. Today’s review is about Patriots Day, a film inspired and based on the true events of April 15, 2013 in Boston.
I want to do something a little different here. Instead of describing the story, I want to describe how important is to TELL a story like this. When the bombs went off on April 15, 2013, everybody across the nation was glued to either the TV sets or their computers hoping and praying for the people of Boston. Patriots Day is not necessarily a story about the actual bombing, I feel, but rather a story about people. Specifically, the people of Boston, Massachusetts. The stories that came out of that tragic day were extraordinary. When the explosions hit, people didn’t run away, but rather towards the people that were directly affected. It’s important for a movie like this to show how important that kind of unity is. It wasn’t just the police who stepped in to help, but marathon runners and other spectators as well. Movies like Patriots Day or Deepwater Horizon tend to show people at their best, and that’s why I love movies like this. The story is incredibly gripping and emotionally powerful. There are not a lot of movies out there that can tug at the heartstrings the way Patriots Day did.
To tell a story like this properly, you need the right crew, the right talent, and most importantly, you need to cooperation of the city that was directly affected by this: Boston. Peter Berg, who recently helmed the disaster flick, Deepwater Horizon, takes the lead here with Mark Wahlberg as the producer and star of the film. Mr. Wahlberg IS from Boston, so this a very personal project for him, because he does have an actual stake in being able to tell this story the right way. The cast they assembled for the film is extraordinary. Wahlburg plays a fictional character caught in the middle of all of this, but many of the other actors take on the roles of the people who were actually there. Kevin Bacon plays the lead FBI agent DesLauriers. He grounds the character in a very realistic and surprisingly logical and sympathetic way. John Goodman is absolutely phenomenal as Commissioner Ed Davis. The most surprising thing about the whole thing is the support that these actors had from the people and the victims. They wanted their story to be told, and I think Patriots Day does a very good job with the acting.
The support that the film crew had from the people and city of Boston, really helped in the film’s authenticity. The entire movie was filmed in Boston so nothing seems out of place. The way the sequences are shot are nothing less than spectacular. From the opening marathon sequence to the final part of the manhunt, everything has been done as realistically as possible, so as not to break the immersion. Immersion is what you need in order for any kind of story to succeed, whether it’s fiction or non-fiction. If the immersion isn’t there, you’re not going to feel the emotional impact of what’s happening on the screen. Everything about this film, from the setting, the characters, and the story, is top-notch. It’s a gritty movie that doesn’t shy away from the bloodshed and violence of the bombings, but it’s not exploitive. It captures the chaos of the event, perfectly. The subsequent chases and the man-hunt are right out of a proper white-knuckle thriller.
While Patriots Day is a movie that’s supposed entertain first and foremost, it’s still a very inspirational story about how communities can come together in the face of tremendous adversity. I’ve never been to Boston, and I would love to travel there one day, but from what I’ve seen through the interviews and the newscasts, the people of Boston are one of a kind. They’re strong, kind and diverse. I think the film definitely captures the spirit of the people of Boston perfectly. It’s a powerful, thrilling and moving story that I think that everybody needs to see. I’m not going to give this film a score, not because it’s a bad movie, no. It’s a great movie, but I feel that putting number to a movie like this would diminish what the film was trying to accomplish, and for Patriots Day, I’m not going to do that. It’s a great movie with an astounding cast, with a very compelling story and characters. I couldn’t recommend this movie enough. Please go see it.