Patriots Day re-treads and covers the events of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, an event which I’m sure everyone recalls hearing about. It was a tragic and unexpected day for the lives of many. Three people were killed in the initial attack with another two policemen and one of the bombers themselves in the following manhunt for the attackers, as well as a total of 280 injured.
Peter Berg (writer and director) has done a brilliant job in telling this delicate and important story in an effective, intriguing and entertaining way. The topics of race, terrorism, death, peace and trauma are dealt with in a respectful way yet Berg doesn’t hide from showing the true devastation the event caused, particularly in his use of archive footage from CCTV as well as news coverage which blends so well with the film’s style and narrative.
The archive footage chosen is a stark reminder of the harsh realities of the event, particularly on crucially impactful moments such as the explosions themselves, some of which is recreated footage and some of which was actual footage from the event. Interviews with some of the survivors at the end of the film are just as impactful as we catch up with some of those whose lives were changed forever. This is truly touching seeing how they have grown stronger since their experiences and how the city really came together.
The film follows multiple characters and stories which is an emphasis on how many people were affected by the attacks and how their lives were significantly changed, yet this doesn’t damage the film’s narrative flow. Mark Wahlberg’s character Tommy Saunders however is a composite character (aka, a character who represents more than one person and their actions), he represents the law enforcement as a whole, a respectful and good technical decision for the film itself as it gives the film a central voice and set of eyes. This doesn’t takeaway from Wahlberg’s performance which is excellent, it’s nothing outstandingly new from him but it’s still a necessary strong performance.
Despite this change, Berg does stay true to facts on the majority of the film, which is surprisingly refreshing considering most films based on true stories/events tend to bend the facts quite a lot. Along with this, the casting is spectacular, John Goodman, J.K Simmons and Kevin Bacon all give strong performances and look surprisingly very similar to their real life counterparts.
All in all, the film gives an accurate, entertaining and touching account of the events of the Boston Marathon bombing and the ways in which the police department, and the city itself, responded so quickly and with great strength.