The Boston Marathon bombing back in 2013 was yet another terror event in the U.S. that attempted to pull its people apart, but only pulled them closer together as a city and as American citizens proudly proclaiming, “Boston Strong”. Almost four years later, director Peter Berg is telling the story of the brave men and women of Boston and their resilience following several days of uncertainty while two jihadists walked among them.
“Patriots Day” follows police officer, Sergeant Tommy Saunders. Saunders is serving his last days as a beat cop after a disciplinary issue. His final assignment happens to be Boston’s biggest event, the Boston Marathon. On hand for the event are two brothers who have been radicalized in Islamism have devised a plan to set off a pressure cooker bomb to rock the marathon and bring the city of Boston to its knees.
“Patriots Day” is an enthralling and suspenseful procedural look at the the aftermath of the bombing from both the citizenry and officials entrenched in the manhunt to catch two terrorists on the loose in Boston. The film has an impressive list of performers including: Mark Wahlberg as Tommy Saunders, John Goodman as Police Commissioner Ed Davis, J.K. Simmons as Watertown Police Sergeant Jeffrey Pugliese, Vincent Curatola as Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, Michael Beach as Massachusetts Governor Patrick Deval, and Kevin Bacon as FBI special agent Richard DesLauriers. These men put on riveting performances pulling you right into the turmoil weighing their duties as the authorities to catch these killers and the civil rights of the people of Boston who are vulnerable and fearful. The film attempts to do its best to give the individuals involved a bit of a backstory that you can relate with, but unfortunately those stories are wafer thin. This film is at its best when we follow the Tsarnaev brothers and their plans to further their caustic cause of cleansing the West and the officials who are hot on their tail relying on the people of Boston to help catch these terrorists.
The most impressive aspect of this film for me was the the portrayal of the city of Boston and the Bostonian’s who stepped up and cooperated with authorities to bring these fiends to justice. Most of the time in film, Boston and its people are more caricature than actual people. In “Patriots Day”, I gravitated to Boston and its unique and strong willed people. No longer were they folksy with the strange accents, but people I wanted to know and learn more about, my heart was with this city and its people.
It’s important to note that, even though the character of Tommy Saunders is fictitious, the stories here rang tried and true. Saunders is a composite of many of the everyday heroes involved during the bombing. Peter Berg has crafted a tremendous follow up to the fantastic “Deepwater Horizon”. “Patriots Day” is most certainly not a perfect film, but its flaws are forgiven because of the strong performances, the tightly wound story, and the strength of the human spirit shone by the city of Boston. “Patriots Day” should be on your must watch list and after walking out of the theatre you’ll have a whole new appreciation of what it means to be “Boston Strong”.
OVERALL SCORE: 3.5/5 Stars
–originally published in MAUIWatch