Posted Feb 26 2017

Patriots Day - This Boston Movie Rocks With Flaws

Dir: Peter Berg 

Starring Mark Whalberg, John Goodman, Michelle Monaghan, Kevin Bacon, J K Simmons, Melissa Benoist, Peter Berg

The Berg & ‘Berg bromance continues with what could be termed part 3 of their American Modern Disaster Movie Trilogy. This one focuses on the events leading up to, and – more significantly – the manhunt that followed the Boston marathon bombings of 2013. Wahlberg is front and centre if anything a little too much as what sometimes seems an amalgam of the entire Boston police force, as he finds himself (complete with bum knee as if to humanise him) at the finish line when the bombs go off, in the thick of it offering the FBI advice on how to handle their case, and then showing up for the shootout with one of the Tsarnaev brothers and the finding-him-in-the-boat capture of the other. Phew! That’s a busy day for a cop with a bum knee, even if not necessarily for a movie star.

When Berg’s film moves away from its lead performer, it is an often engrossing, almost forensic recreation of the events of those fateful and troubling days. Yet there are plenty of moments when Berg’s fidelity to recreating events more often than not feels like he is showing us everything that happened, rather than telling us any form of story about what happened. And certainly never daring to even hypothesise why. It’s a technique that serves to make the city of Boston the dominant performance in the movie, despite such strong back up as Bacon, Goodman, Simmons and Benoist being on hand and raring to go for their limited featured scenes.

As with both Lone Survivor and Deepwater Horizon, the filmmaker’s intentions are admirable, and his ability to handle action certainly skilful, even if his editing does become somewhat unrelenting. The firm of Berg & ‘Berg did a better job on Deepwater for certain, but there’s enough here to engage with, even if no one involved really appears to have anything to say other that “This happened” and “This is how it happened.”


Patriots Day poster


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