For Bostonians and Americans alike, the events surrounding the day of April 15, 2013 will forever be ingrained in our memories as one of the most gripping terrorist attacks to occur on American soil. The Boston Marathon bombing was carried out by brothers Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev and killed three individuals while injuring 264 others. It commenced a four-day manhunt that shut down one of the largest metropolises in the United States in search of two young men who were considered armed, dangerous and plotting another terrorist attack in New York City.
“Patriots Day,” directed by Peter Berg (“Deepwater Horizon,” “Battleship”), chronicles the days surrounding the bombing and the subsequent manhunt, centered around Boston Police Officer Tommy Saunders, portrayed by hometown hero Mark Wahlberg. While the character of Officer Saunders was never an actual figure throughout the events which the film is based on, Wahlberg’s character represents the undying spirit of the Boston law enforcement and, in turn, the people of Boston, who banded together to rebuild after tragedy through love and resilience. Wahlberg truly shines in this role as his emotionality peaks, representing the “Boston Strong” mentality, which becomes increasingly evident when the film approaches the finale of its two hour and 13-minute run time.
Outside the fictionality of Wahlberg’s character, the film remains generally accurate to the individuals and details surrounding the Boston bombing. Specifically, J.K. Simmons as Watertown Police Sergeant Jeffrey Pugliese and Kevin Bacon as FBI Special Agent Richard DesLauriers, who portray their roles with enough Bostonian flair and emphasis that it becomes hard not to believe that Wahlberg is the only Bostonian of the bunch. Impressive as well is the fact that the whole movie was filmed in Massachusetts, with filming based mostly in Malden and Boston, Mass.
Berg expertly weaves story arcs within the central plot to allow the audience to grow attached to certain characters, whether it be MIT officer Sean Collier (Jake Picking) attempting to ask a girl on a date to a Zac Brown Band Concert, who was subsequently shot by Tamerlan Tsarnaev, or Dun Meng, humorously portrayed by Jimmy O. Yang, who also attempts to find love yet is taken hostage by the Tsarnaev brothers before running away to become the unsung hero of the manhunt.
While the protagonists are portrayed in a light that has you rooting for them the whole way through, Berg is able to set up an opposing shade toward the Tsarnaev brothers, portrayed by Themo Melikidze (Tamerlan Tsarnaev) and Alex Wolff (Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.) The tension felt amongst the audience during the Watertown firefight or the manhunt for Dzhokhar after his brother is killed could be cut with a knife. Though we are conditioned to sympathize with Dzhokhar as he is twisted by his brother’s radical ideologies, we become testament later on to the depravity of his human nature and the ability that all men have to become twisted.
Despite the acting, Berg does a great job with both camera work and production value, which Wahlberg also contributed to. Though some scenes leave many disoriented between the grisly images and shaky camera work, the mood tenses in a way that leaves viewers on the literal edge of their seats.
Whether you consider yourself a Bostonian or an All-American, “Patriot’s Day” signifies the motif of a resilient spirit that has brought us through 9/11, the Boston Marathon bombing and any future event that challenges the aura of the United States of America.
Rating: 4.25/5 Stars