Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Patriots Day: A No-Holds-Barred Retelling of the Boston Marathon Bombing

Movie Review: Patriots Day (2016)
Version: Library borrow

Patriots Day is a no-holds-barred re-telling of the April 2013 bombing of the Boston Marathon and the community's heroic response in finding terrorits Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. It features fine performances by Mark Wahlberg as a recovering injured police Sergeant Tommy Saunders on security duty at the finish line, John Goodman as Commissioner Ed Davis, Kevin Bacon as FBI Special Agent Richard DesLauriers, and J.K. Simmons as Watertown police Sergeant Jeffrey Pugliese, along with Jake Pickering as MIT Security Officer Sean Collier (who was assassinated by the Tsnaraev brothers) and Themo Melikodze as the older brother, Tamerlan, and Alex Wolf as is younger brother, Dzhokhar. Jimmy O. Yang is excellent as Dun Meng, the car-jacking victim, who heroically escapes the Tsnaraev brothers and runs for his life to alert police.

Parts of this film are brutal in showing the carnage from the bomb blasts, but it was the intent of the producers and director to be as honest as possible in depicting the destruction and mayhem of that infamous act. Near the end of the story, as police face off against the Tsnaraev brothers on a neighborhood street, there is a fierce shootout scene with amazing multiple pipe bomb explosions. In another scene, Wahlberg puts out an amazing emotional performance as the policeman who has seen it all in the aftermath of the event, bodies and limbs and death, breaking down before his wife. Much of this film is raw, edgy human reaction to terror, and every bit of it makes total sense. None of it is gratuitous or forced.

Patriots Day starts off by showing how key characters begin their day -- from the police, to runners, to innocent bystanders, to the car-jack victim, to the man who finally finds Dzhokhar Tsnaraev in his boat. The pace picks up as the event organizes and police set up security, then the marathon begins. The Tsnaraev brothers build the bombs, watch TV, interact with their family, pack up their backpacks, and go to the finish line. Dun Meng goes about his day, meets a young lady, goes on a dinner date, sits in his car and texts her. The explosions happen and chaos breaks out. People respond to each other with care. The FBI arrives and takes over the investigation. The search is on for who is responsible. The Tsnaraevs plot more action. And so the story continues to unfold to its ultimate conclusion, a city on edge but never going over that edge.

If you remember that event, you know the main story. But you don't know the whole story. Watching Patriots Day, you will relive the event and get to really know how a city came together over a tragedy and never let it take them down. You will witness their courage and feel their strength, even while you empathize with their anguish. The details here are vivid enough you may not want to let young children watch this film, but it's a good history lesson for the rest of us on the time "Boston Strong" became a national anthem and one well earned.

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