“Patriots Day” Review ✦✦✧✧✧

25 February, 2017

Director: Peter Berg
Screenwriters: Peter Berg, Matt Cook, Joshua Zetumer 
Directors of Photography: Tobias A. Schliessler
Mark Wahlberg, J.K. Simmons, John Goodman

Synopsis: An account of the devastating events that took place in Boston on 15 April 2013 when a pair of bombers detonated explosives at the finish line of the city marathon.

Patriots Day Review:

Providing an opportunity to experience the cataclysmic force of the blast first-hand, “Patriots Day” recreates the hectic aftermath of the Boston bombing with graphic detail, utilising legitimate crisis actors in a bid to simulate the effect of being stationed in ground zero during the moment of the attack. Bracing for impact before tragedy strikes, the movie’s increasing tension dissipates into chaos as the infamous explosions are remodelled with disturbing accuracy, severing limbs and scattering bodies across the kerb in a matter of seconds while overlapping full-scale reconstruction with real footage from the day of the event.

While the film hits all of the key players (the blonde dancer clutching her shredded leg, the couple separated during their darkest moments, the dead boy guarded by a solemn police officer), its moment of queasy indulgence is only transitory as Berg segues into a muddled citywide manhunt which coincidentally allows him to carry out a number of jingoistic fantasies. “Patriots Day” allows its terrorists to operate without a clear-cut backstory, glossing over their unique tale of self-radicalisation in an attempt to enforce pre-existing ideas about extremism in the Western world. For those willing to lump terror into neat boxes, the movie preaches to the choir but for viewers seeking a more in-depth account of the motives behind evil, it fails to hit the mark with its memorialistic take on something begging to be assessed from multiple angles.

For Berg, respect for the victims and police force is all that matters but the indifference he shows towards his lead villains is ultimately a detriment to the power of the film’s overall message. The Tsarnaev brothers exist to be deconstructed but Berg’s unwillingness to look evil in the eye lumps them into their pre-existing category with little regard for the true objectives of the men who turned Massachusetts into a temporary war zone during their week of terror. Mapping forced comic relief onto sensationalised portrayals of victims whose humble presence requires very little tweaking, “Patriots Day” loses points with its overbearing need to carve a sentimental tribute, made worse by the presence of a valiant Mark Wahlberg who couldn’t care less about who he’s playing as long as he’s a hero.


Review Date
Patriots Day