Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Movie Review: Patriots Day (2016)

Patriots Day (2016) - Directed by Peter Berg; Written by Peter Berg, Matt Cook, Joshua Zetumer; Starring Mark Wahlberg, John Goodman, Rachel Brosnahan, Michelle Monaghan, Melissa Benoist, J.K. Simmons, Kevin Bacon.

By Kenny Howell

When the Boston Marathon bombings happened, you just knew a movie would be made in the next few years. It was just pure insanity as the Tsarnaev brothers went on a Grand Theft Auto type spree, fleeing from law enforcement, but it ended with the good guys winning.

It was such a tragic, horrific crime that brought such an intense mood of patriotism that the perfect person to tell that is Peter Berg. And if Friday Night Lights was his triumph of TV, Patriots Day may be his triumph of film.

As I mentioned in my recent review of Deepwater Horizon, he takes on stories that could lend itself to schmaltzy patriotism, but he always gets such genuine emotion out of them. This could have been way overdone, and it didn't need to be. Berg focuses on the people involved, telling their stories and letting the already astounding story do its job.

Are conduit to the story is Tommy Saunders, played by Mark Wahlberg (Lone Survivor), one of the few fictional characters in the film. He is an amalgamation of several different Boston cops that worked the case. In the film, he is a detective that had gotten in a bit of trouble in the past, so to get back in good graces, he agrees to put on a cop's uniform and work the race, even though it embarrasses him to be stepping back to a beat cop uniform. He is right at the finish line when the bombs go off, and we see the terror through his eyes. From there, Berg takes us through the case as law enforcement figure out who the bombers are, then try tracking them down in the greater Boston area.

Patriots Day works because of the material that is always there and Berg's ability to enhance it with touching moments and his always great use of score. Explosions in the Sky, who has scored a lot of his work, are not involved this time, but he gets another great pull in Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, who won an Oscar for the score of The Social Network. He then pays great tribute to the people of the tragedy as the film ends, we meet the real people and hear in their own words the after effects of living through such a terrible event. It puts a poignant period on the already great story, and may be Berg's best film work.

Rating: ***

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