The events of April 15, 2013 shocked the city of Boston, America, and the entire world after in a senseless tragedy that robbed three people of their lives, maimed hundreds more, and turned the city of Boston upside down in a daring hunt for two dangerous terror suspects. Director Pete Berg captures of all of this in his moving and emotionally raw drama Patriots Day.
Taking centre stage is star Mark Wahlberg in his third collaboration with Berg. Wahlberg takes on the character of Detective Sergeant Tommy Saunders, a down on his luck Boston Police Officer who is facing the end of a suspension, and working the finish line of the 2013 Boston Marathon. Saunders is an amalgam of several police officers who were there on the day, and like his work in Deepwater Horizon, Wahlberg does not play him as some hardcore action hero, but rather an everyman who’s trying to get his life back on track. But once everything goes to hell, he steps up quickly as the most senior officer on the bombing site, and moves quickly to bring together the investigation.
It’s undeniable that Patriots Day was a very personal film for Wahlberg, a Boston native who has championed the city and its spirit throughout his entire career. His performance vulnerable and moving, especially in the tense moments where Saunders get completely overwhelmed by the carnage.
With a cast this big one would normally think that there would invariably be a fumble. But that’s not the case here, every supporting player gets their moment in the film, and all the performances are spot on. Special praise should be given to John Goodman as Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis, Kevin Bacon as FBI Special Agent Richard DesLauriers who leads the investigation into the terror suspects, J. K. Simmons as Watertown Police Sergeant Jeffrey Pugliese, and Jimmy O. Lang as Dun Meng, a witness who was taken hostage by the Tsarnaev Brothers.
Before going into Patriots Day be warned that an emotional rollercoaster awaits. Berg and his production team get every detail spot on, and perfectly capture the tragedy that shocked so many. One minute it’s a beautiful day full of fun and joy, the next everything goes to hell and the streets are left filled with blood and shrapnel. Berg and his team put you in the immediacy of the action with a documentary style of filmmaking that is in-your-raw and extremely raw.
But while the film does focus a considerable amount of its attention on the manhunt that completely shut down the city of Boston, there are bigger themes at play. These themes of love, unity, justice and courage are best summed up by the words Boston Strong, a spirit that followed in the wake of the bombings. This film honours that spirit along with the survivors, the first responders and the law enforcement officers who came together to make Boston a safe place again.
Image: Roadshow Films