Patriots Day, 2016.
Directed by Peter Berg
Starring Mark Wahlberg, Kevin Bacon, John Goodman, J.K. Simmons, Michelle Monaghan, Christopher O’Shea, Rachel Brosnahan, Alex Wolff, Themo Melikidze, Jimmy O. Yang, Jake Picking, and Melissa Benoist.
Recounting the events of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings and the subsequent investigation and manhunt to find those responsible.
When searching for images to attach to this piece there isn’t many available that don’t include Mark Wahlberg. He’s the star and so on, I get it, but there lies the rub. They’re stuck between giving the movie star enough screen time and compiling this real event’s timeline.
Wahlberg plays fictional character Tommy Saunders who represents several different people that were involved in the tragic events of the bombings. The problem is that due to so many people being merged into one, Tommy just so happens to be either in the midst of it all or very close to it at many momentous points in the follow up investigation. To have that many perspectives blended into one never held much weight for me. Now, to include all those that were involved would be too large for any movie so I get why the action was taking to blend them into one, I just wished they didn’t. Take one scene for example, a member of the team first discovers an image of one of the men responsible so they draft in Tommy specifically to piece together the street and the other vendors that would have CCTV in order to get a better look. He does so with pace and this leads to an image of both Tsarnaev brothers together.
Peter Berg goes detailed in his quest to piece together what happened around the finish line (where the bombs detonated) and to that point elsewhere in the city. The camera allows you uncomfortably close at points to the immediate aftermath and places you in the chaos with great effect. Another vital tool Berg used was these long takes to heighten the suspense. This especially works well in what I found to be the best scene of the movie as Jimmy O. Yang’s character Dun Meng is carjacked and the dialogue we hear is taken from the real Dun Meng’s retelling of his experience.
All this said, what we have is an often engaging story of a true event. That’s important as the story is the draw here, not necessarily the movie. I’m not sure people are getting more from this retelling than they would by watching a documentary. That documentary style is manufactured by giving us names of newly introduced characters or time and locations as we shift throughout the timeline. It’s a difficult and very complex job to take a recent tragedy like the Boston Marathon bombings and present it in this mass media format. You’re balancing that line between making such a visceral moment entertainment. Finding that line in all the smoke is no easy feat and Peter Berg and others deserve credit, however I question whether it ever had to be done in the first place.
You get a whole bunch of special features here from the making of the movie to the real life accounts from the people portrayed in the movie so delve into them and find the story within, sans Wahlberg.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★