January 12, 2017
This film was called "Patriots Day" because it was on this holiday that the Boston Marathon is held, and on a particularly fateful one in 2013, a deadly bombing marred the festivities. For us on this side of the world, all we know just the basic facts. Bombs were detonated near the finish line of the Boston Marathon causing multiple casualties and deaths. It turns out that there was so much more about that event to tell.
Before Patriots Day, we get to meet the various characters who would get involved in the drama of the coming events. The role of the several policemen was obvious. There were a couple of suspicious looking guys you immediately recognize as the bombers. You can surmise that maybe the others would be the victims. However as the film went along, there were some characters introduced would not even be in the vicinity of the bombs at all. That was part of the engaging appeal of this narrative style -- how these various pieces of the puzzle fit into the story.
Mark Wahlberg can really play these working class heroes very well. It is quite apparent that Wahlberg's character Officer Tommy Saunders is not based on a real person, because no person with that name was shown in the montage of survivors shown at the end. In fact, he is the lead actor yet he plays a fictional character, which was odd for a true-to-life film. I don't know why there was a big focus on his bad knee as it did not really matter in the whole scheme of things.
JK Simmons, John Goodman and Kevin Bacon play the other true-to-life officials in this drama, leading the efforts to get to the bottom of things. These veteran actors know this territory like the back of their hands. Alex Wolff and Georgian actor Themo Melikidze play the Tsarnaev brothers. These two actors eerily looking like the real bombers, it was uncanny. A surprise was the hardly-recognizable Melissa Benoist plays Katherine Russell, the wife of the elder Tsarnaev brother. No trace at all of how we know her as Supergirl on TV. Her highlight was that high-tension interrogation scene with an intense female officer played by Khandi Alexander.
Director Peter Berg shows the brutality of the bombs in terms of blood and injuries, just enough to make you flinch away. He then pays tribute to the quick response of the police and paramedics. The area was secured and the ambulances were bringing victims to the hospital within an incredible five minutes after the blast. Berg makes full use of the suspense during the investigation phase of the various cooperating agencies, with the analysis of the various CCTV footage from the stores around the explosion site.
I never knew that the two suspects hijacked the Mercedes SUV of Chinese immigrant Dun Meng as their getaway car. I also did not know that there was a major gunfights with bombs thrown right there on a street in Boston between the police and the two terrorists. I did not know that the Mayor of Boston actually shut down the whole city keeping everyone indoors during the manhunt. These were the aspects were the most exciting part of the film, building up to the cornering of the bomber who was hiding inside a tarped rowboat, the conclusion I knew from before.
My thoughts raced to another Mark Wahlberg-Peter Berg disaster film that I just watched recently -- "Deepwater Horizon." I thought this one would be similar in the sense that there is going to be one destructive explosion at one point and Wahlberg gets to play the hero to save the day. However, I was wrong to judge this new one too quickly. There was so much more in store for us who do not know the complete story. The whole story about the Boston Marathon bombing and its aftermath turned out to be very rich, tense, exciting, dramatic and emotional. 7/10.