The acting is erratic and it does feel overly produced, but it tells its story well while looking fondly at the heroes involved.
The aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombings in 2013 became totally focused on the togetherness of Boston as a city, and The US against terrorism. The resolute standing and community feeling that came from the attack was tremendously uplifting, especially considering how horrific these events were. Patriots Day is the latest film from director Peter Berg known for his retelling of real life events in films such as Deepwater Horizon. Attempting to capture emotions as well as looking at the heroes involved during the event, it looks to be the story on a larger scale, not just the events of one day.
Sergeant Tommy Saunders (Mark Wahlberg) is tasked with policing the finish line of Boston’s annual marathon on Patriots Day. When two explosions create devastation in quick succession, he takes the responsibility of organising his men to save as many lives as possible. After the bombers escape, it is up to the FBI and the Boston Police Department to find and capture the terrorists who have caused such destruction to the city.
Patriots Day does feel very Hollywood and very American. There’s no getting around the place setting and characterisation in the way real life heroes are always built up. This isn’t necessarily a problem, but there is nothing new about the film’s style. Yet, a film of this nature needs to be nothing but patriotic, and patriotism is certainly thrown at the screen repeatedly.
Mark Wahlberg is a inconsistent actor. With good direction he can work very well in a fair variety of roles, however he does struggle in Patriots Day. He isn’t strong enough when voicing the emotional range needed for a role that relies on being hugely empathetic and certainly much more than Wahlberg makes it. In fact the whole film struggles from an inconsistent supply of emotional moments, however when these scenes do work they are very well crafted. JK Simmons is the absolute standout, in a brilliant showing as Police Sergeant Jeffrey Pugliese. His resolute standing is set out marvellously.
The use of CCTV within the picture works as an enhancement to creating the reality Patriots Day needed to feel. This isn’t just a true story, it’s a deeply personal story. For those involved in the events on April 15 2013, this will be a very rewarding tribute.
Overall, Patriots Day is a very mixed bag. The acting is erratic and it does feel overly produced, but it tells its story well while looking fondly at the heroes involved.