Patriots Day (2016): Movie Review

By Tanmay Shukla

Featured in IMDb Critic Reviews

Amid a calamity it is easier to get occupied in the higher priority task of saving lives. To unearth stories from such sensitive situation gives us hope, strength and inspiration to persist. Patriots Day traverses through various stories of the brave citizens of Boston who displayed immense courage, their will unperturbed as they came back stronger than ever from the Boston Marathon Bombing in 2013. As someone rightly said in hindsight, we are not the victims of violence, but rather, we are the ambassadors of peace.

The first half of Patriots Day introduces us to a few individual stories and how they are affected by the Marathon Bombings planned and executed by two young jihadist brothers, Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. The elder one, Dzhokhar, who is more radical of the two, is married and a father of a young daughter, who prepares the explosives to be planted inside pressure cookers. The latter half is about the cops locating and chasing the perpetrators. I appreciate that the story unfolded in a deliberate and elaborate manner which is why it ran for a good 15-20 minutes too long but much of it couldn’t achieve the desired effect due to lack of a convincing and impressionable central character which deprived the film of its humane charm. Hardly there was a moment which was devoid of action and yet the film became sluggish towards the middle because there wasn’t much tension and conflict to keep the viewer on the edge of their seats. Though, it did pick up some pace towards the end.

Mark Wahlberg as Sgt Tommy Saunders must have been chosen for his stoic style to bring more realism which has totally backfired. Tommy is overworked and weary but Mark Wahlberg’s portrayal makes the character look lesser than what he actually is. For him, terrorism is the fight of the good against the evil, a belief which drives him but the intent reflecting in his actions is missing in his expressions. Kevin Bacon as Richard Des Lauriers, FBI Special Agent, gives a good performance. JK Simmons too, as Jeffrey was noticeable in his short screen time.

Peter Berg has directed and co-written Patriots Day which is based on the book Boston Strong by Casey Sherman and Dave Wedge. Though Peter Berg has overall directed the film well, as it features in the top ten films of 2016 by Board of Review, it suffers from the lack of anything standout. The editing lacked urgency and it could have been more creative with simultaneous narration of multiple stories. Sound Mixing was done well from which was useful during the action sequences.

In the interrogation scene, Dzhokhar’s wife, Katherine Russell, played by Supergirl Melissa Benoist, talks about ‘submission’ towards her husband; obeying him, they will be sent to heaven in afterlife to live together, happily. Her conviction and fervor justifies the lack of opposition against her husband committing criminal acts in front of her eyes even though she is educated and aware of her rights. There is another interesting scene involving the two brothers who have jacked the car of Dun Meng. The two brothers also get involved in silly fights like any brothers in the world, the elder one dominating the younger who is desperate to drive the ‘benz’. It tells how these young innocent minds are misled so easily by pseudo religious fundamentalists. Ironically, the younger brother tells Dun Meng that he is ‘brainwashed by the media.’

Patriots Day works well as a drama which is more of an entertaining thriller rather than a documentation of the unfortunate incident. There is action and explosions to keep the action-thriller genre fans interested, who will leave the theatre satisfied. 

Rating: 6/10

Patriots Day Trailer (YouTube)

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