Peter Berg returned very soon after Deepwater Horizon, with yet another film based on a true event. Patriots Day is a film based on the 2013 Boston marathon bombings by the Tsarnaev brothers. Interestingly, this film also circles around a fictional cop (played by Mark Wahlberg) so we’ve got a mix of fiction with reality. I’m not the biggest fan of Berg’s films but there is no denying he can do tense action scenes very well.
The film is a mixed bag but I’m leaning more on the positive side. The film’s depictions of the violence and gore minutes after the attack, do not hold back. You don’t expect it to either, especially if you are aware of Berg’s track record. The sheer brutality of the event is captured, much like the war violence captured in Lone Survivor. Some of the chase and gunfights is absolutely enthralling as well. The final showdown between the older Tsarnaev and the police is very well done. It is gripping and remarkably captivating. I understand the original account of the events is a haze but the encounter must have been intense, going by the films depiction.
Getting back to the mixed bag bit here are the few things that detract from the film. The film starts out introducing a bunch of characters who are impacted in one way or the other by the event. This is necessarily not a bad thing in and of it self but it takes away from the films focus and too many characters equates for not enough weight given to each other. Some characters are purely devices to elicit an emotional response. The film also suffers from a long run time, condensing the film would have led to a more focused effort. The film seems to be a mishmash at times. The director must have wanted to just include all the scenes filmed, which impacts the narrative element of the film.
I was also not sure about the film being made. The events are very fresh and must still be really shocking for a lot of people impacted by the event. I can see why people would find this film to be exploitative. But on the other hand, films are a good way of educating people on the events of a true story. I assume the film was fairly accurate, so even I was able to learn a lot about the events. Also, Alex Wolff seemed like a dead ringer for the younger bomber.
It’s just about what you expect from Peter Berg. A film that does action very well, but a film that suffers from bloated length and could have used a better approach to telling the story. The film isn’t absolutely necessary however its quite enjoyable and will provide for an entertaining, emotional, and enjoyable time for its viewers. I guess at the end of the day that’s what you want from your media.