Sunday, January 29, 2017

Movie Review: "Patriots Day" (2016)

Director: Peter Berg
Rating: R
Running Time: 2 hours, 13 minutes
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The story of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing that left three dead and hundreds injured, as well as the subsequent manhunt for the the Russian and Kyrgyzstan-born terrorists that killed two more police officers and wounded many others during the chase. 

"Patriots Day" is directed by Peter Berg, who seems to have really found his niche making true life stories starring Mark Wahlberg. The two have collaborated previously on "Lone Survivor" and "Deepwater Horizon," both of which were much better than we expected. This film tells the story of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing and the subsequent manhunt that followed looking for the suspects. It stars Mark Wahlberg as Tommy Saunders, who is a fictional amalgam of characters created for this story to represent many police officers and law enforcement officials  involved in the actual events. Joining him are John Goodman as Police Commissioner Ed Davis, Kevin Bacon as FBI Special Agent Richard DesLauriers, Michelle Monaghan as nervous telephone wife #837363727 Carol Saunders, Michael Beach as Governor Deval Patrick, and J.K. Simmons as heroic policeman Sergeant Jeffery Pugliese. Having the thankless job of playing the infamous terrorists are Themo Melikidze, who plays the Russian-born Tamerlan Tsarnev, and Alex Wolff, who plays his Kyrgyzstan-born brother Dzhokhar Tsarnev. 

Some may say it's a bit too soon to capitalize on such a tragedy, and frankly, we wouldn't disagree. We had reservations going into "Patriots Day," especially considering the trailers ramped up the Americana and hyper-dramatized the moments after the attacks. That being said, Peter Berg does a decent job in staying respectful of the incident and those involved in it. He introduces the key people who play a vital role in this tragedy, whether they be victims, the terrorists, or the law enforcement officers that helped bring them to justice. Due to time constraints, he only touches on each individual person briefly, just enough to introduce them and give the audience a slight sense of who they are so we know whether or not to love or hate them. The one character that does get the most development is Wahlberg's Tommy Saunders who, as mentioned above, also happens to be the one fictional person in the entire movie.

Regardless of the "too soon" aspect, still, "Patriots Day" is a gripping action film that keeps us engaged in the event unfolding on screen. Most of us remember that day quite clearly, even those of us on the west coast. As someone who stayed up until mid-morning the day the two suspects were being chased across Boston, obsessing over every move in real time, this film still managed to be enthralling, even when knowing every detail of the outcome. It's also very entertaining and exciting, an edge of your seat viewing experience with a solid tribute to the officials tasked with handling the aftermath and those who chased the terrorists down in an effort to bring justice to the people who lost their lives, spirits, and limbs in the bombings. Of course, it also has an overabundance of American symbolism, so much so that  it might prompt Michael Bay to say "you laid in on a bit thick, Berg." That being said, it does invoke a certain sense of national pride and may leave you chanting "USA! USA! USA!" when it is all over. It stays mostly true to the real life events, just in case you forgot them from a couple of years ago.

My Rating: 7.5/10
BigJ's Rating: 7.5/10
IMDB's Rating: ~7.6/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: ~79%
Do we recommend this movie: Yes!

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