In January, we usually get some of the worst movies of the year, but we also get the films opening wide release that had opened in December to become eligible for Oscar consideration. This is the category that Patriots Day falls into as this is an awesome movie based on an unbelievable story of a city facing terror and overcoming.
Boston, 2013. The Boston Marathon is underway when two homemade bombs go off, injuring several and killing a few bystanders. The next few days led to a manhunt throughout Boston in an attempt to capture the bombers.
There has been a lot of complaining about Mark Wahlberg’s character as Sgt. Tommy Saunders is the only main character in this film who is not based on a real life person. However, this did not bother me at all. I found this character to be meant to be a compilation of many individual heroes and first responders from Boston.
I also give Wahlberg a break here because he is awesome. This is one of the best performances I have seen him give. The scene where he broke down at his house with his wife (Michelle Monaghan) was tremendous and choked me up.
Wahlberg is not the only great performance though as Patriots Day is full of them. John Goodman is great as Police Commissioner Ed Davis. J.K. Simmons played Sgt. Jeffrey Pugliese of Watertown. Kevin Bacon gives his typically strong performance as FBI Agent Richard DesLauriers. Jimmy O. Yang is great too as Dun Meng, someone whose role in this story I did not know.
This movie plays as an extremely effective thriller as the different pieces of the puzzle are introduced individually. As they all come together, you find yourself engaged in the story and the suspense is sky high.
Peter Berg and Mark Wahlberg team up again to create an effective and engaging adventure based on a true story. Deepwater Horizon from 2016 was a thrilling and breathtaking from this pair as was Lone Survivor.
One of the cool things that Peter Berg does here is that he mixes real security footage from the event into the movie. He does it so smoothly that you do not even realize that it is happening several times. At times in the film it has that documentary feel to it.
Another thing that this film does admirably is portray the brothers who committed this horrendous act as real characters. Alex Wolff and Themo Melikidze take the roles of the Tsarnaev brothers and make them real people who have real lives. When we see real security footage of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev going to get milk after the bombing, it has a surreal feel to it.
I must say that I am not sure the purpose of the scene where Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s wife (Katherine Russell) is interrogated. It felt unnecessary for the narrative and was just shoehorned in to the film so it could be used in the trailers. I think that whole scene could have been removed to make the film tighter.
Patriots Day is really a love letter to the people of Boston who rose to the occasion during these days of uncertainty as the whole nation looked for answers to this terrorist attack. We saw many normal people serve very important roles in the capture of the brothers. I really enjoyed the emotional roller coaster.