Film Review: PATRIOTS DAY (USA 2016)

patriots_day.jpgDirector: Peter Berg
Writers: Peter Berg (screenplay), Matt Cook (screenplay)
Stars: Mark Wahlberg, Michelle Monaghan, J.K. Simmons

Review by Gilbert Seah

PATRIOTS DAY tells of the heroes behind the capture of the Boston marathon bombers. Arriving 3 years after the incident, the film is still as timely owing to similar terrorist attacks around the world – in Miami and Paris, just to name a few. In fact, the film also pays homage to the victims of those attacks as they are mentioned during the film’s closings credits.

The second film in less than year from director Peter Berg and actor Mark Wahlberg sees PATRIOTS DAY as an improvement with a more serious tone than the previous DEEPWATER HORIZON. More so, since the film is a re-creation of the Boston Marathon bombing on the holiday Patriots Day, which the title of the film derives from. It is the star vehicle again of Wahlberg and it is not surpassing he chose this role as Boston is the star’s hometown.

The film is an earnest account of Boston Police under Commissioner Ed Davis’s (John Goodman) actions in the events leading up to the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing and the aftermath, which includes the city-wide manhunt to find the terrorists behind it.

The film takes a while before establishing a sound footing. The first third of the film feels like the garbage that was in director Berg’s DEEPWATER HORIZON as in the scene where Wahlberg’s young daughter explains to him and wife how an oil rig could explode with a can of coke at the breakfast table. The family scenes of various characters at the film’s start sets the film up like a soap opera with the director like a traffic cop, but the film improves from there getting to the main business at hand.

The film’s best segments are those that involve the terrorists – as one is always curious of a world one knows very little of. The best of these is the interrogation segment where a lady expert is brought in to question the wife of the deceased bomber. One cannot help but admire the professionalism on display here – from the scripted questions to the suspenseful staging of this scene. The ultimate question that needs to be answered is “Is there another bomb?”

The film feels racist in the one scene with the asian whose car is hijacked by the terrorists. He speaks with a typical Chinese accent with all the ‘r’s pronounced as ‘l’s. But when the actual Chinese portrayed appears at the closing credits, he speaks with the same accent pronouncing all the ‘r’s as ‘l’s.

The purpose of the film is clearly a dedication to the strength and courage of the citizens of Boston from the law enforcement to the victims to the FBI. The last 10 minutes including the end credits are specially devoted for this purpose and though director Berg overdoes it, one can hardly complain over words like ”We consider ourselves not the victims of violence but the ambassadors of peace,’ voiced from the actual bomb victims.




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