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Released: February 23rd 2017
Length: 133 Minutes
Director: Peter Berg
Starring: Mark Wahlberg, John Goodman, J.K Simmons, Kevin Bacon, Michelle Monaghan, Vincent Curatola, Jimmy, O. Yang Alex Wolff and Themo Melikidze
Going from the generic Battleship in 2012 to more grounded efforts, last year's Deepwater Horizon was an excellent, yet sensitive recount of the BP oil disaster. With Patriot's Day, Peter Berg appears to have found his niche in filmmaking, a director who pours an outstanding amount of effort into adapting real world events.
Patriots Day recalls the Boston Marathon Bombings that took place in the United States on April 15th 2013 at the hands of Tamerlan and Dzhokar Tsarnaevand. It follows many different characters from victims to investigators and the bombers themselves across the city. A straightforward introduction gives a background to each of the characters and their positions before thrusting the audience directly into the heart of the chaos; from here things swap back and forth between the terrorists and their attempts to escape alongside the entrance of the FBI and their investigation into the bombings. As the film runs on, it gives way to some incredibly suspenseful moments that beautifully capture the intensity some victims found themselves in. The film only slows down to display the more heartfelt moments where common people came together in the midst of tragedy and these also stand out. The film simply doesn’t let up and by doing so, gives an unyielding chronicle you won’t be able to look away from.
By casting its lens across a wide variety of characters, Patriots Day aims to give a broad view of the horrific events it portrays. Mark Wahlberg is the leading actor here, but his fictional character Sergeant Tommy Saunders, who aims to embody the Boston Police Department never takes the spotlight away from everyone else for too long. A whirlwind of emotions come into play through the film but as good as the performances are, it's often the little touches that make all the difference; the way FBI staff rub their eyes having gone back over marathon security footage many times and the feeling of isolation as a lone police officer solemnly stays with the body of an innocent child on the empty streets deliver an intense impact. Patriot's Day is very much a matter of perspective; the perpetrators of the bombings and those close to them are also given screen-time, delivering a context behind their reprehensible deeds rather than making them simplistic, one-note villains. On the other hand, members of the Boston authorities portrayed in the film, most notably by John Goodman, J.K Simmons and Kevin Bacon, give off the pressure they were under to bring the bombers to justice. By distancing itself from typical film entertainment, Patriots Day successfully obtains a relatable tone while also delivering an unbiased viewpoint of the marathon as a whole.
Patriot's Day is helmed with realism in mind and from the moment the bombs go off, the film’s editing works especially hard to pull the audience in. The cinematography cuts around the action, capturing the horror and confusion so vividly, often being placed against real CCTV footage to further heighten its authentic tone. Each character is introduced in the style of a documentary with plain white text giving their name and occupation, a succinct means of introducing them to the proceedings. The camera pans down to show grievous injuries inflicted by the explosions and later over the entire city brought to a standstill as the manhunt commences. This is followed up by the well-handled action sequences, which convey the danger of chasing down the armed terrorists better than any conventional action film. The soundtrack is also appropriately vicious without becoming too extravagant, which goes a long way towards distancing the film from a straight-up action flick. Visually, the film offers a very crisp viewpoint throughout its runtime, veering away from Berg’s fictional outings for a firm concentration on authenticity.
Ferociously tense and unrelenting in its commitment to realism, Patriot’s Day is a phenomenal biopic; one which completely envelops the audience inside the tragic events while also taking great care to honour everyone caught up in them equally.
Rating: 5/5 Stars (Exceptional)