Movie Review: ‘Patriots Day’


Director: Peter Berg

Cast: Mark Wahlberg, John Goodman, Kevin Bacon, JK Simmons, Michelle Monaghan

Plot: In 2013 two brothers planted bombs at the finish line of the annual Boston Marathon, leading to 3 deaths and hundreds of injuries. In the chaos that follows law enforcement agencies rush to investigate what happens and catch those responsible.

Review: The first thing that pops into your head on hearing there’s a movie about the Boston Marathon is ‘already?’ It’s a remarkably short amount of time since the tragic events on that day and the surrounding circumstances are still under investigation. It makes one wonder what their intention was in making this movie.

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It doesn’t the shed any new light on the event itself because everything the movie gives us is found on the wikipedia page and was on the news. It doesn’t seek to explore a point of view the audience may not have considered or challenge the audience expectations, it’s a dot point retelling of what happened. And it’s not to perfectly recreate the events for the audience because they mix in fictional characters and events with the reality, even attributing actions and revelations made by real people to their make-believe hero. It’s not even to spotlight particular figures because the amount of screen time each character gets is dictated by how co-operative their real world inspirations are.

At the beginning of the film we are introduced to a number of people from the mayor and police commissioner down to a married couple and delivery driver who later get caught up in the attack. Many of the people involved have testified that these people are good representations of the real people and what they did, which is good. But then they drop into the middle of it all Marky Mark playing the same Boston cop he always plays and he becomes the hero of the day.

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He is right next to the detonation point, he immediately knows the right way to respond to the crisis, he yells at the FBI for not wanting to move a child’s body before gathering evidence because he cares so much about the parents, he rocks into command centre to suggest they visit the patients in hospital and uses his local knowledge to help gather essential information, he participates in an explosive shoot out with the terrorists and tracks the second one down. This character is blatantly fictional and blurs the line between a realistic depiction of a very recent tragedy and glorifying it for the sake of entertainment.

So we come back to the the purpose of the movie. The slow, patriotic music during the trailer and the non-stop celebration of the local folk without any real investigation or contemplation of the tragedy and the potential motives or repercussions make it feel like a propaganda film. Something to highlight how proud and hard working and fantastic Americans are when compared to those scummy Muslims. It’s emotively manipulative, clumsily tugging at every heartstring it can reach, and we can only think of two reasons why Berg is doing this. It’s either to promote the “war” on terrorism and to reinforce anti-Muslim attitudes or it’s to make money. It’s hard to say which is worse.

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Only worth watching if you feel like having some mediocre film makers try once (oh, did we mention that they also made Deepwater Horizon and Lone Survivor?) again to make you cry in exchange for money by exploiting a genuine tragedy and act of cowardice and hatred. 

Rating: THREE out of TEN

 

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