Mark Wahlberg is the action man of the moment making some decent flicks recently. His collaboration with Director Peter Berg on their last film, DEEPWATER HORIZON was my Number 20 movie for 2016 and this one is looking just as good. Sadly this was another preview I missed that Kernel Blake scored to review. In regards to this movie I personally found it a little too soon, it happened less than four years ago. But lead man and Boston native Mark Wahlberg thought different. I am undecided but will view it as a movie, not a documentary.
“It’s not too soon. It’s not soon enough,” Wahlberg recently told The Boston Globe. “The wounds are far from healed, but I realized if the wrong type of person came in and made this, it could have turned out to be extremely gratuitous. I knew a lot of the responsibility was going to be on my shoulders. But I pride myself on being able to go home and show my face, so I wanted to get it right, you know?”
PATRIOTS DAY releases Feb 1 in Australia from Roadshow Films, it is rated M and runs for 133mins. If it’s half as good as DEEPWATER HORIZON I am all over it. Enjoy Blake’s thoughts……..all the best……JK.
BY BLAKE CURRALL
Peter Berg and Mark Wahlberg have become the go-to team for “fact” based films about tragic events in history. After teaming up for LONE SURVIVOR and DEEPWATER HORIZON, Berg and Wahlberg come together for PATRIOTS DAY. A movie recounting the tragic bombing of the 2013 Boston Marathon and the hunt for the people responsible.
PATRIOTS DAY begins the evening before the 2013 Boston Marathon, held on Patriots Day in the USA. Boston PD Sgt Tommy Saunders (Wahlberg) is working the graveyard shift trying to get back into the good graces of his boss after being suspended. That boss is Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis (John Goodman) who gives Tommy a chance to get his old job back by securing the finish line of the big marathon the following day.
From here we are introduced to seemingly random people throughout Boston; a young Chinese man Dun Meng (Jimmy Yang), a newly married couple, a father and son as well as a sergeant of Watertown PD, played by JK Simmons. Some of these people are headed for the marathon, some aren’t and you do wonder what these brief introductions will lead to.
Surprisingly, we are also introduced to the two men who will prove responsible for the attack on the race, Muslim extremist brothers Tamerlan and Jahar. We are shown their family life, as well as their plans and designs for dirty bombs, picked up from watching Terrorist 101 videos on the internet.
Soon after, PATRIOTS DAY really kicks off with the race itself, quickly followed by the terrifying explosions that rocked the finish line.
Sgt Saunders is on the front line as chaos and confusion spiral out of control in front of him. His quick thinking gets his colleagues into action and the rescue of those injured can begin. Some of the scenes here don’t hold back, showing the terror and violent aftermath of such a calculated attack, really hitting hard without sugar coating the events.
Cleverly, some of the seemingly random characters we were introduced to earlier in the film are amongst those caught up in the blast. They are all rushed to various hospitals not knowing if their partners/children/family members are alive. Finding out that these people were actual victims of this race is quite harrowing.
The real story of PATRIOTS DAY kicks into gear as the FBI arrive and the manhunt begins. With no knowledge of who could be responsible, Saunders is brought in by Commissioner Davis and FBI lead investigator DesLauriers (Kevin Bacon) to help piece together mobile phone & CCTV footage and identify lead suspects.
After pouring through all the vision sent in by the Boston public, the bombers are identified and the manhunt begins. This is where PATRIOTS DAY takes an unexpected turn, focussing on the two bombers and their attempts to get out of Boston and head to their next target, New York. This leads to some tense scenes as the two brothers try and stay one step ahead of the police, the FBI and the Boston public hellbent on justice for the attack.
When the brothers kidnap Chinese man Dun Meng the tension ramps up as they tell him they are the bombers and will kill him if he tries anything. A threat that is very real and one we all believe. With the police no closer to tracking down the bombers’ location, Meng bravely (or foolishly) makes a run for it at a gas station, alerting authorities to his ordeal and putting the heat on the brothers.
As the net tightens, the brothers are intercepted in Watertown. JK Simmons’ Sgt Pugliese is forced into action with his squad to tackle this threat to his quiet little town. PATRIOTS DAY ramps up the action here as the police and bombers engage in an intense shootout in suburban Boston, turning a peaceful town into a warzone of automatic gunfire and explosions. The fact these events actually happened is incredible.
As one of the brothers is taken out, the younger brother Jahar, flees into the neighbourhood, seemingly evading his captors. Until he is discovered hiding in a boat in someone’s yard, famously portrayed on news broadcasts worldwide. Again, through the help of the Boston public, Jahar’s position is given away and the ordeal is over, with police and FBI agents taking the terrorist into custody.
As mentioned earlier, PATRIOTS DAY depicts many of the real-life law enforcement members and those that were injured as part of the Boston attack. The casting of these characters is incredible with the likeness to the real people.
Bacon, Goodman, Simmons all bring their reliable acting chops to their respective roles, with Simmons especially given some lighter lines to inject a little humour into an otherwise bleak situation.
However, the one exception is Wahlberg, whose character Tommy is fictional, mainly to give the story a protagonist we can follow. It is a little jarring seeing his character present at all the major events of the film when the rest of the ensemble is situated where they would’ve been during the actual events.
Also worth mentioning, is the casting of the two bomber brothers. Played by Themo Melikidze and Alex Wolff, they’re portrayed not as cartoonish bad guys but, unsettlingly, as real people doing these horrific acts. Themo particularly brings an intense menace and truly terrifying presence to this thankless role.
PATRIOTS DAY is a tense, horrific and yet inspiring film set against the backdrop of one of the most terrible events to take place on American soil. Berg has crafted a great film here, splicing in footage from the actual events of this 4-day period in history. It really rams home the authenticity of all that happened. Notably, PATRIOTS DAY does give a slightly interesting reaction in the current political climate, with the anti-Muslim establishment currently taking over in the U.S.. However, the real story here is of resilience in the face of terror, of a city coming together to rebuild and show that their spirit won’t be broken. They will remain strong. Boston Strong.
Kernel Blake is a part-time beard bandit, philanthropist, industrialist….bicyclist…photographer, world traveller, movie lover, a man of few words who enjoys the finer things in life, like reciting Snake Plissken quotes. And when all that fails, heads out to a racetrack to do skids. Can be found twatting @bcurrall80 and hipstergramming @bcurrall80
** All images courtesy of various sources on Google or direct from the distributor/publisher – credit has been given to photographers where known – images will be removed on request.