Patriots Day – REVIEW


One man’s freedom fighter is another’s terrorist and as portrayed here in Patriots Day the 2 men responsible for the Boston marathon bombing were a radicalised muslim and the other was a stoner wasted on cannabis and easily led. Director Peter Berg’s true life story starts off in traditional thriller territory with multiple characters setting off for the day to a sound track of mellow music and not knowing what their part is going to be in the whole story and who will survive. The only sure thing is Mark Wahlberg as a cop on disciplinary and back patrolling the streets and lumbered with working on the marathon later that day. It’s all inexorably moving towards the moment when the bombs will go off and to that end it is frighteningly tense. And then it happens. The moment is perfectly captured.The shock, the disbelief, the horror and inevitably the panic. It’s all compounded when the film switches to documentary style realism even using CTV footage to emphasise the true horror of the atrocity. For once the cops are portrayed with respect and admiration for the role they play at that moment as understanding that they are human too and affected by emotion but maintaining their duty of professionalism as when  a cop guards the body of a dead child in the street until the forensics have been completed at the scene.

It’s the human aspect that finally catches up with Wahlberg’s dedicated cop having seen the carnage, the amputations and the scale of the horror and unable to contain his emotion explodes when his family bombard him with questions about what’s happened. It’s all too, too real and he breaks down in tears at what he’ seen.

The story went around the world almost immediately and the investigation led by an almost skeletal Kevin Bacon is intriguing as cops trawl all the CCTV for the slightest clue. It’s the emphasis on CCTV that plays such a huge role, both in Bergs use of it in the film as well as its use in tracing the 2 suspects which ultimately leads to Boston being shut down transforming the city into a ghost town until the showdown where the last of the suspects is traced to a sailing boat on a residents driveway.

For cynical Brits it’s easy to be dismissive of patriotic Americans but Bergs film is defiantly proud and Wahlberg, a Bostonian himself is keen to film the story of his beloved home city as much as a tribute to it as it is to the city’s people.  Berg uses his standard bag of tricks for the film and the scripts use of a disparate group of people played by unknown actors is well done leaving the audience unsure of what their role is in the story and whether they will survive until much later in the film when each of their back story unfolds. It’s a script with many highlights focussing not just on the scenes of chaos and carnage but also the smaller and equally important human aspects with an especially fine interrogation scene.

Patriotic in every sense it shows cops in a positive light because when the bombs go off they’re the only ones running towards the trouble and despite the country having a hugely contentious President  in Trump it’s a film which would unify US audiences.

The real life Sgt Jeff Pugliese who was involved in a shoot out with one of the terrorists can be seen hatting to a group of critics about the real events he was involved in and his role in the film on our YouTube channel here….

Here’s the trailer…


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