Patriots Day, rated R
Patriots Day is the emotional, powerful and ultimately inspirational depiction of the events surrounding the terrorist bombing at the Boston Marathon on April 15, 2013 and the heroic efforts to find the bombers.
It is the third film that Mark Wahlberg has worked on with director Peter Berg, 2013’s Lone Survivor and 2016’s Deepwater Horizon being the first two, all of which are based on true stories. The film’s title is taken from the Massachusetts state holiday that commemorates the Battles of Lexington and Concord, the first battles of the American Revolutionary War on April 19, 1775. It is celebrated on the third Monday in April, and the Boston Marathon is held that day. Peter Berg wrote the script with Matt Cook and Joshua Zetumer. This is the first of possibly three movies about this historical event, the second being 2017’s Stronger starring Jake Gyllenhaal, based on Jeff Bauman’s book of the same title, and Boston Strong, currently in development.
Most will be familiar with the tragic events that the film is based on in which two Muslim brothers set off bombs at the finish line of the Boston Marathon, killing four and wounding 264 others. Berg begins the film with a twenty minute sequence that introduces us to the many characters who will play major roles in the drama over the next few days; it can be a bit of a challenge to keep them all straight. The film follows authority figures, ordinary citizens and the terrorists from the night before the violent attacks to the resulting manhunt.
The film features a strong cast. The lead role is Boston police sergeant Tommy Saunders (a composite of real officers), played by two-time Oscar nominee and Boston native Wahlberg (The Fighter, The Departed). Because Saunders has been disciplined, he finds himself at the center of the bombing when makeshift explosives go off at the finish line of the marathon. Golden Globe nominee (True Detective) Michelle Monaghan portrays Tommy’s wife Carol. Oscar winner J.K. Simmons (Whiplash) in a relatively small role portrays nearby Watertown Sergeant Jeffrey Pugliese. Golden Globe winner (Roseanne) John Goodman portrays Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis, and Golden Globe winner (Taking Chance) Kevin Bacon portrays Special FBI Agent Richard DesLauriers. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev (Alex Wolff) and brother Tamerlan (Themo Melikidze) play the bombers well, with Tamerlan’s American wife being played by Melissa Benoist (Supergirl).
After the bombing, we see the investigation and week-long manhunt take place, which kept the entire city of Boston paralyzed with fear. This includes the attempted getaway of the brothers, including a carjacking and the abduction of Northeastern student Dun Meng, portrayed by Jimmy O. Yang. Actual footage is effectively used throughout, adding realism to the film.
The film is rated “R” for the intense bomb sequence, the following horror, including gruesome visual images of the injuries, and a significant amount of adult language.
This well-made film shows how the city of Boston – first responders, police, FBI agents, emergency room doctors and nurses, etc. – all came together in response to this tragedy. It was both chilling and inspiring. The acting was solid with the focus on the story. When the public confidence in law enforcement is low, this film shows those in such roles in a positive light. The cinematography and visual effects are done very well, complimented by Trent Reznor’s musical score. The film ends with a brief look at some of the real-life survivors of the tragedy.