Based on the tragic true events that occurred at the finish of the Boston Marathon in 2013, director Peter Berg and lead Mark Wahlberg have recreated the day leading up to the bombing, followed by the astonishing man hunt that eventually caught one of the perpetrators. While it follows these desperately sad moments where people who lost their lives, it doesn’t hide from the reality nor does it make light of anything and, in fact, Patriots Day is intensely and intelligently made.
Berg’s film plays the earlier hours simply and straightforward, we absorb the lives of people who’ll be in the crowd and even a young cop who’s on a nearby Campus, with his story returning to a sad decline as the bombers get desperate later on in proceedings. This allows attachment and understanding of the real people who get caught up in a horrific moment. Mark Wahlberg plays Police Sergeant Tommy Saunders, an officer who shouldn’t be at the finish line but due to events in his career, that I’m not sure we really learn about, he’s in some sort of rehab and so stuck doing ‘everyday’ Policing, instead of investigations or being out on the beat.
After the bombs have gone off and caused chaos, there’s no holding back on the brutality of the situation and that’s a smart, poignant move. There’s no space here for standing back from what happened, and it’s shown by Berg and it can only reflect what I think a war zone would be like. Wahlberg’s Saunders does what he can to help but eventually he’s also brought in by the FBI because he was there in the moment, and can help find the right CCTV to try and spot the murderers. Of course, much like the day itself, they start to find a pattern and a huge, city-wide man-hunt commences.
Much his role in the unexpectedly moving Deepwater Horizon (do check that one out), Wahlberg has found a place in the heart of real-life-based stories and it’s because he brings his own realism to the roles. He’s impressive again but this story isn’t just about his characters’ bravery, it’s about everyone involved, and even the big name co-starring cast of JK Simmons, Michelle Monaghan, John Goodman and Kevin Bacon bring gravity to the situation as they play their parts.
Patriots Day is deftly recreated, even when you know the sequence of events, and while it might talk about ‘belief’ it doesn’t punch its weight into religion, it’s more about the evil of men who chose to kill because of twisted reasoning and unhinged fixations. In an era where these events are far too common, Patriots Day ends up being both heart-breaking and heart-warming as it finds a focus looking at the stories of love that overcomes hate. We see people running towards danger to help, learn of the bravery of the Dun Meng (played by Jimmy O. Yang), watch the Police work in those extreme moments of terror and so it tells us that while some might try take life away from us, like in Manchester, London, Paris, Brussels, Berlin, and beyond, the best of the human race still look for a positive outcome, no matter how tragic it was for us to get there.
Patriots Day is out on digital release on 19 June, with it being released on Blu-ray and DVD on 26 June. Pre-order: http://amzn.to/2sERjkK