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Patriots’ Day is the newest film by Deepwater Horizon director and star Mark Wahlberg about the terrorist bombing that took place at the Boston Marathon in 2013.
It’s the day of the annual Boston City Marathon and Sergeant Tommy Saunders (Wahlberg) is assigned to work his regular schedule when the event comes to tragic halt after two homemade bombs explode in two separate locations. The Boston Police Department frantically try locate injured victims, when FBI agent Richard DesLauriers (Kevin Bacon) arrives and identifies the incident as terrorism. FBI agents spend days scouring endless video footage from street cameras and cell phones until the enough evidence is discovered to identify a suspect. Once the suspects have been identified, a city wide manhunt begins to capture the terrorists, two brothers, ending in a deadly shootout in Watertown, PA.
Patriots’ Day could have taken a different approach. A lesser film would have tried to illustrate what was happening in the minds of the villains, featured a relentless fictional hero, and presented itself as a fictional psychological study. The tragedy could have been the climax of the film, and the actual capture could have been the third act resolution. Instead, this film centers around how the Boston and Watertown Police Departments worked tirelessly to not only find the criminals, but also how they managed to unite the city of Boston in the process. There was a group of policeman and FBI agents who had a hand in making the city of Boston safe again, and the film does not get lazy and shy away from that.
A major surprise in Patriots’ Day is the humor. There are a couple of highly tense scenes in this film, but they are peppered with a little bit of humor to break to tension. There is no one character that provides comic relief, the humor is placed in a way that is tasteful. Its’ as if, when you visit the city of Boston, this is how the people are, funny.
Lastly, the film has one huge strength that pulls it up, and one big flaw that weighs it down. The strength is its cast. Wahlberg, Bacon, John Goodman as Police Commissioner Ed Davis, and J.K. Simmons as Watertown Police Sergeant Jeffrey Pugliese. Although their roles weren’t big due to the ensemble aspect, they are pivotal. And most importantly, the film thoroughly benefited from the casting of Themo Melikidze and Nat Wolff as the two brothers, Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. The movie incorporates quite a bit of security footage, and the actors’ likenesses were almost identical to the real terrorists. The huge flaw is the 10-minute documentary that is placed at the end of the film. I understand the filmmakers wanted to give a fitting tribute to the survivors, but the film already did such a good job of doing that. It just wasn’t necessary.
Patriots’ Day, much like Deepwater Horizon, tells a story of tragedy while never losing an underlying message of hope. Its’ not preachy, the film as a whole is not only believable, but it manages to includes details left out by news outlets. I wish all true stories were done this well.