The story of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing and the aftermath, which includes the city-wide manhunt to find the terrorists responsible.
The first question that springs to mind about Patriots Day as a whole is an obvious one: is it too soon to be recounting an attack which is still fresh in the forefront of the minds of many? And more importantly, is its existence simply a quick cash in by Hollywood on others grief? It quickly becomes apparent that, thankfully, the answer to the latter at least is no.
Mark Wahlberg stars as Tommy Saunders, a police officer caught up in the Boston Marathon bombings of 2013 which killed three and injured 280 people. The story chronicles the lead up, immediate aftermath and subsequent investigation of those fateful few April days.
Being a Boston native himself, Wahlberg is the perfect casting choice for the lead. In an interview regarding his involvement (he produced the movie too), Marky Mark worried that if the wrong person made this film, it could have come across as ‘gratuitous’. His performance here certainly isn’t that; it’s a convincing yet unremarkable turn by Wahlberg who probably should have done better given the personal nature of the films contents. There are a few scenes where he appears to open up and reveal the dramatic actor concealed within, but for the majority it’s difficult to differentiate his character here from the ‘everyman caught in a bad situation’ type he portrayed in 2016s Deepwater Horizon.
The rest of the impressive cast turn in authentic performances, with the always-brilliant JK Simmons a standout as Sergeant Jeffery Pugliese, and John Goodman as Police Commissioner Ed Davis. Kevin Bacon keeps it straight faced as FBI agent Richard DesLauriers, whose disconnected, level headed and bureaucratic approach to the investigation is a sharp contrast to the way Bostonian authority figures want to tackle the case.
But it’s the city of Boston itself who is the key player in Patriots Day – the pride of its residents for their hometown and incredible resilience in the face of adversity shines through thanks to Berg’s directing. At times, the unbelievable nature of the attack pushes the film to cliched action movie territory, but some quick researching will satisfy and bring clarity to those wondering whether certain scenes actually happened.
A vital part of Patriots Day is its score. Written by Academy Award winning duo Atticus Ross and Trent Reznor, the music is never overbearing, but integral to pivotal scenes. It lets the images do the talking, while inviting the audience to feel without ever manipulating.
The use of actual footage enhances the emotional factor, and the short documentary after the main feature showcasing the strength of survivors packs more of a punch than anything the 2 hour film recreates. Put simply, it works best when showcasing the real humans affected and the harrowing real-life videos which we’re lucky enough to only have to watch and not live through.
Truthfully though, Patriots Day is a competent but ultimately unnecessary retelling of events which are still fresh in people’s minds.
Thankfully doesn't exploit the attack and champions the city of Boston
Largely faithful to the real events
Strong performances from majority
Reznor and Ross' score
Ultimately unnecessary to retell an event that happened three years ago
Wahlberg gives similar 'everyman-in-the-wrong-place' turn seen in Deepwater Horizon