Patriots Day

 

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A tragic event portrayed with more skill than judgment.

 
Patriots Day

Mark Wahlberg

 

Judged solely on the quality of the film craft displayed, Peter Berg's Patriots Day deserves a rather higher rating than the one that I have given it. It is a tough, macho film, a fact that will come as no surprise to anyone who saw the war drama that Berg made in 2015, Lone Survivor. There he was writer as well as director and here the screenplay credit is shared by him and two others. However, any response to Patriots Day has to take into account also one's reaction to the fact that this is a suspense exercise, an action movie that offers big screen spectacle by telling the true story of the terrorist attack during the Boston Marathon held in 2013. Indeed, the film starts on the day before that event, 14th April, and having built up to the outrage then portrays the tracking down over the week in question of the two brothers who were the culprits.

 

To provide the material with a personal focus the events are largely presented as seen through the eyes of an invented character, the police officer Sergeant Tommy Saunders. In this role Mark Wahlberg gives a competent performance, but you can't but be aware that the figures around him although introduced on screen with their actual names are familiar Hollywood players such as Kevin Bacon, John Goodman and J.K. Simmons. Add the relentlessly present music score and one cannot escape the feeling that a terrible incident that maimed and killed is being presented for our entertainment. Although the aftermath of the bombings would include more violence and loss of life, the worry about the tone being inappropriate is much less keenly felt once Patriots Day becomes in essence a police procedural.

 

Such concerns may not trouble some viewers at all, even if the film as a whole, one in which actuality footage of President Obama is incorporated, might well win the approval of President Trump through its portrayal of America's ability to be as tough as it takes to combat terrorism. What is undoubtedly clear is that Berg, his editors and his photographer have created most impressively the fraught mayhem in the immediate wake of the attack and the sense of a city under siege until the killers are found. At the close the introduction of documentary footage of the people whose story has been enacted seeks to assure us that the film's heart is in the right place. Nevertheless, despite quality work here, I for one am aware of the contrast between the style of this work and that which was to be found in Paul Greengrass's approach to the events of 9/11 in the sensitive and heartfelt United 93.

 

MANSEL STIMPSON

 

Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Kevin Bacon, John Goodman, J.K. Simmons, Michelle Monaghan, Alex Wolff, Themo Melikidze, Michael Beach, Jimmy O. Yang, Rachel Brosnahan, Christopher O'Shea, Melissa Benoist, Khandi Alexander, Jake Picking.

 

Dir Peter Berg, Pro Scott Stuber, Dylan Clark, Mark Wahlberg, Stephen Levinson, Hutch Parker, Dorothy Aufiero, Stephen Stapinski and Michael Radutzky, Screenplay Peter Berg, Matt Cook and Joshua Zeturner, Ph Tobias Schliessler, Pro Des Tom Duffield, Ed Colby Parker Jr and Gabriel Fleming, Music Trent Reznor and Atticua Ross, Costumes Virginia B. Johnson.

 

CBS Films/Lionsgate/Closest to the Hole/Leverage Entertainment/Bluegrass Films/Hutch Parker Entertainment-Lionsgate UK.
133 mins. USA. 2016. Rel: 23 February 2017. Cert. 15.