Too Soon? That has been a question posed by some concerning the release of Patriots Day. Directed by Peter Berg and starring Mark Wahlberg, the film depicts the events surrounding the deadly 2013 Boston Marathon Bombings that shut down the city. There’s no doubt Peter Berg has recently taken his filmmaking inspiration from tragic events in movies like Lone Survivor and Deepwater Horizon, but the director does not glorify the fatal actions of the two men or turn the bombing into a spectacle. Instead Berg chooses to honor the victims and the individuals who helped take down the assailants who terrorized Boston with an intense experience that shows the strength of a united human spirit can always triumph over terror.
Patriots Day may cover the terroristic act of violence and the investigation that followed, but the film finds its heart and strength as a diverse Boston character study that shows all the people impacted once the bag bombs were detonated near the finish line. Berg introduces the audience to a wide variety of real life characters including Wahlberg as Homicide Detective Tommy Saunders looking to get out of the doghouse in his department, a Chinese exchange student (Jimmy O. Yang) and an MIT Police officer played by Jake Picking to name a few. Berg does explore the two bombers life, but in no way makes them sympathetic characters or justify their actions. At first you wonder what a Watertown Police Sergeant (J.K. Simmons) and a young married couple from Boston have to do with each other, but as the events play out in Patriots Day you soon realize how these citizens are all connected to these sick individuals who decided to murder people on a beautiful spring day. Through this sample of people, Patriots Day shows you the heartbreak, hope and honorable actions taken by Law Enforcement to end the chaos of a city under siege.
After the characters are established in Patriots Day, Berg sends the viewers on an intense and authentic journey that puts you in the middle of the bomb site with people reacting to the madness once the explosions ring out. Berg doesn’t hold back with his R rating presenting graphic depictions of the casualties including legs ripped to pieces and bodies laying in the streets. Patriots Day actually weaves real life footage of the attack into the film creating a veritable docudrama feel as you get different perspectives of the attendees in the surrounding areas of the blast zone. Once the violent attack is over, Patriots Day turns into a crime drama as the audience is taken behind the scenes of the investigation and the manhunt that ensued once the evil pair (We won’t mention them by name) decided to spill blood in the city. The second half of the film is full of carjackings, chases and white knuckle shoot outs as the police close in on the two criminals.
Patriots Day is one Hell of an action thriller anchored by a strong performance by Mark Wahlberg as Detective Tommy Saunders. Wahlberg gives an emotional performance as a cop looking to avenge the city of Boston and the people whose lives were changed forever after that tragic day. Patriots Day is a tough film to watch at times, but will also fill you with American Pride showing a community coming together to take down these two angry men and their vicious agenda to kill and hurt Americans. Berg does an excellent job dealing with such sensitive material while also presenting heart stopping action, but not forgetting to deliver a message of hope especially in the last 10 minutes of the film. Some may deem Patriots Day as “Too Soon?”, but Berg produces a powerful film that will have you on the edge of your seat as the director throws you right into the havoc that took place on April 15th, 2013.
Overall, I give Patriots Day 3.25 out of 4 stars.
Read all T.M.’s reviews here–>Entertainment Now with T.M. Powell