Also saw Patriots Day, the new – and third in a row – film by director Peter Berg and actor Mark Whalberg. This follows their collaboration on Lone Survive and Deepwater Horizon and is also a real-life docudrama, this one about the Boston Marathon bombing from 2013. I’m going out on not much of a limb here to say this is far superior to those other quality efforts. I think Peter Berg is far more assured and capable of generating suspense and drama in these events than those past two efforts.
Before you say, “I saw the bombing and the aftermath on tv”, well, yeah sure you did, but this is still a pretty great retelling of those events. This is definitely a procedural, showing a variety of folks around Boston going about their lives or doing their jobs. A number of these characters don’t immediately make it clear why they are in the movie but the script smartly justifies everyone in the end. Mark Whalberg plays an amalgam of many Boston cops to give us a character we can relate to from start to finish – I think everyone else is a real character as evidenced by some real interviews with them before the end credits.
I found this film very interesting, very suspenseful, and very well acted throughout. We get Mark Whalberg putting in one of his best performances ever (complete with Red Sawks Boston accent) and he’s joined in smaller parts by John Goodman, Kevin Bacon, and Michelle Monaghan. A number of other, lesser known character actors play important rolls – probably most of them Boston locals, on a guess.
There’s been some sturm and drang over this being a propaganda piece against Islam and I don’t agree. In that the two terrorists were Muslim is just the facts… the older one was more engaged and the younger more American or naturalized (doesn’t mean he didn’t plant him some bombs). And the movie is about chasing them down but, again, that’s just what happened. The movie ends with a message of love trumps hate and, of course, Boston Strong… it doesn’t want to leave you with a message of hate, but of people rushing towards the bombs to save lives.
My one complaint is that there’s a shoot out scene near the end of the movie that feels too much like a Hollywood action set piece. I know there was a shoot out in real life, but I’m not convinced it was this extreme and with that many bombs thrown. But Hollywood’s gonna Hollywood.
So, yeah, I really enjoyed this film. It’s not a huge fun night at the movies and it runs really long, but sometimes a good dramatic retelling of events works. And this one works.