Review: “Patriots Day” Feels Like A Bland Report On What Happened In Boston



Title: Patriots Day
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Posted February 6, 2017 by

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April 15, 2013. A horrific day in our Nation’s history that doesn’t feel removed enough to make a film about, but here one is, going through the events of the Boston bombings and giving us brief glimpses into the lives of a few of the people who were either affected by the attacks physically, or who had something to do with the investigation and ultimately bringing the two terrorist brothers to justice. Officer Tommy Saunders (Mark Wahlberg) is one of the few fictional characters in the movie and he seems to move seamlessly between the attacks on April 15th, to the investigation of the crime scene, and ultimately the take down of brothers Tamerlan Tsarnaev (Themo Melikidze) and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev (Alex Wolff). While he’s meant to be the narrative tie for the multiple storylines crossing paths, he is too much of a one dimensional character to really get behind. I’m more interested in the stories that actually took place and would have loved more focus on people like Patrick Downes (Christopher O’Shea) and Jessica Kensky (Rachel Brosnahan); the newlywed couple who both lost legs in the Boston bombings. We get small glimpses of those that were affected by the bombings but the characters in the film really only serve to push the action forward and give Office Saunders more inspiration to get out onto the streets and find these guys. While they took their time trying to push this fictional character to the forefront, real-life heroes depicted in the film get brushed to the side like Sergeant Jeffrey Pugliese (J.K. Simmons) who brought down the oldest brother yet for a majority of the film takes hits off his joint and drives around aimlessly until almost the end of the movie.

If you’re going to make a film based on actual events (especially ones that took place so recently) you need to tell us something new. “Patriots Day” comes across more like a bland book report on what took place with dramatizations sprinkled in to make it more Hollywood. When there are documentaries out there like ‘Marathon: The Patriots Day Bombing‘ that take you from the initial attacks all the way through the trial and the eventual steps to heal it’s hard to recommend watching a Hollywood released film that glosses over a lot in order to tell their character’s story.

With all of that being said, I don’t feel like “Patriots Day” is a bad film. I know it doesn’t seem like that based off of the last two paragraphs, but Peter Berg shot and directed it well. The acting in it is good but that’s not hard to say with people like Kevin Bacon, John Goodman, and Michelle Monaghan playing roles. I feel like this film serves a purpose because movies are how some people learn about historic events that took place, and if that is actually the case then “Patriots Day” will help a lot of people understand what went down that day and the ones that followed.

I really wish this film would have focused more on how Boston came together as a city. That was the narrative it should have run with and one director Peter Berg and actor Mark Wahlberg said they realized when making the movie, but it felt lacking in that regard. There are brief moments that are meant to show that point, but I wish it would have been the larger narrative as opposed to the cat-and-mouse game the film really drives home. The whole nation really came together and paid attention to this story. I live on the West Coast and I remember being at home, reading a fury of twitter reports about what was taking place, watching live videos shot from citizens in Watertown as the whole city was shutdown and the manhunt continued through the night, and listening in on the police scanners online. America paid attention as Massachusetts came together and ‘Boston Strong’ became more than just a phrase that was created. Peter Berg focused more on the officers on the ground and I understand why he did that to tell his version of the story, I just think it would have been a more effective film if approached from a different standpoint.

All-in-all, “Patriots Day” is a decent film. I’m of the belief that a documentary would be a better choice if you have to watch one of the two, but for a Hollywood film based on actual events, “Patriots Day” did more than most and you have to respect that. The Boston Bombings were meant to scare people and take away their security, their comfort, and drive them apart. Instead, the citizens of Boston and Watertown stood up to terrorism, stood by each other, and helped bring these brothers down. A truly inspiring story birthed from a horrible event.




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