Synopsis – The story of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing and the aftermath, which includes the city-wide manhunt to find the terrorists responsible – Patriots Day.
Director – Peter Berg
Released – 2016
For fans of – Deepwater Horizon, Contraband, Spotlight
It always amazes me how quickly Hollywood studios churn out movies depicting natural disasters, terrorist attacks, or accidents that cause multiple deaths. Usually, within a couple of years, there’s a movie in the works with a promise of being respectful to the families of the victims, not all of which are true to this promise, taking artistic liberties where they shouldn’t or producing straight-up propaganda to support whatever political argument the director wishes to push. This is why I put off watching Patriots Day for quite a while, not wishing to see a collection of Hollywood stars save the day, knowing that in real-life the sequence of events wasn’t quite this streamlined and clear-cut. But when I finally found time to sit down and watch, I found my fears unwarranted, with director Peter Berg finding a way to craft a perfectly accurate depiction of one of the more harrowing terrorist attacks on the American people in recent memory.
But it wasn’t only Berg that rightfully treated this project with the respect it deserves, everyone involved in this movie did the story, the victims and the survivors justice and as a result, you end up with a powerful and deeply moving film that’s a part procedural part thriller with all-around great performances. Now, I’m sure, there were many aspects to this story that required great consideration from the writers and Berg as to what to show and what not to, keeping this story sensitive towards the families of the victims, but also producing a cohesive and hard-hitting story that isn’t completely centred around the action. On the whole, I believe this is something they achieved.
The fine line that the movie treads should also be a testament to Peter Berg’s strength as a storyteller. The entire plot is staged in a way that immediately transports the audience back to that fateful day in 2013 and even though you know that bombs are going to detonate, the event still takes you by surprise, killing and maiming multiple people on the day and leaving both physical and mental scars forever. This shouldn’t be forgotten, but what also shouldn’t be forgotten is the bravery shown by the people of Boston on the day and those following, with the film capturing this perfectly, with Boston-born Mark Wahlberg the perfect person to convey the film’s message.
This is especially true when the film transitions from a disaster movie into a crime thriller, with the police along with the FBI attempting to track down the perpetrators and bring them to justice, This is where the actors come into their own, now more so than Wahlberg, who is able to showcase the full range of his acting ability, probably due to the subject matter being so close to his heart. Kudos should also go to Themo Melikidze and Alex Wolff who have the unenviable task of portraying the bombers. Both give their all to encompass the Tsarnaev brothers, finding ways to evoke all kinds of emotions in the audience, some of which are unique for a film dealing with Islamic terrorism.
Peter Berg delivers an excellent film with Mark Wahlberg giving the most honest performance of his career. Patriots Day is one of the rare attempts at taking a real-life tragedy and making a harrowing yet truthful representation of what truly happened without making it too sappy or too Hollywood. I highly recommend it.