Movie Review: “Patriots Day”
Tommy Saunders (Mark Wahlberg) is a reputable Boston police officer who has recently been suspended. His suspension has consisted of ”lame" jobs like working security at events, and his last “lame” job (before being put back in field) is to work the finish line of the Boston Marathon. No one could have anticipated the horror that was about to occur but, when a bomb went off near the finish line, and Saunders (along with many other brave men and women) suddenly found himself running toward the chaos. He quickly became determined to help the wounded civilians and try to catch the men responsible.
In what was intended as an act of terror, two young men will quickly learn that Boston is a proud, resilient city. The incident would become appropriately named “The Boston Marathon Bombing”. While there were only a few casualties, many lives were changed forever. The bombers are still at large, but Tommy (along with many men and women working in law enforcement) will do whatever it takes to catch those responsible.
The Pros & Cons
The Horror (+3pts)
Character Building (-5pts)
The Suspense (+6pts)
Boston Strong (+8pts)
Pro: The Horror (+3pts)
Going into this movie, I was curious as to whether or not the filmmakers would "hold back" when depicting the moments of the actual event. This movie had a tough task because they needed to show the horrific moments by not holding back, while also not going too far and exaggerating the incident beyond what would be seen as realistic. I really liked the way they executed the bombing in this movie. It really felt like a war scene yet did not (in my opinion) seem like the filmmakers over dramatized what happened. I really got the sense that everyone present during the bombing would have been scarred both mentally and emotionally (if they were lucky enough to have survived). No one was prepared for this bombing, and I thought (as someone who did not experience the tragedy first hand) that Patriots Day successfully conveyed the horror that was the Boston Marathon bombing.
Con: Character Building (-5pts)
This was probably the movie's biggest issue. The filmmakers simply tried to cram in too many storylines. If I had too roughly count off the top of my head, I would say we got four or five side storylines, other than the main storyline. This did not need to be an issue, but the introduction to all of these storylines consisted of jumping back and forth between them in a way that felt very unnecessary. I get how all of these stories came together but, at least in the beginning, it was a bit jarring and annoying to cut away from a storyline that I was starting to get invested in. I feel like, with what the filmmakers wanted to do, this movie would have been better suited as a limited television series. It would have given ample time to flesh out all of the storylines that the filmmakers were clearly interested in, and I believe there was enough story there to do so. Anyway, it was a movie and, as a result, this many storylines made the movie feel cluttered. This led to me not being as invested in any of the characters because I did not have enough time and development with any one character specifically.
Pro: The Suspense (+6pts)
I really liked the timeline of the movie and that the bombing was not the climax. If anything, the bombing was part of the early rising action. The rest of the movie showed how the survivors dealt with the incident and what got the most focus was how Massachusetts (specifically Boston and Watertown) organized the pursuit of catching the two men responsible for the terrorist attack. The biggest concern of setting the movie like this is that the Boston Marathon Bombing was not that long ago, so a lot of movie goers will (and did) know how the story would end. I thought the suspense, driven by the acting and how invested I was with catching the bombers, helped this issue. Following the cops during their pursuit and what felt like an active war-zone known as Massachusetts, gave a real level of intensity. I thought this movie was equally intense and suspenseful, which was driven by the desire to see the men responsible brought to justice.
Con: Predictable (-2pts)
I already touched on this, but something that I thought hurt this movie (albeit not severely) was when the movie came out as opposed to when the incident happened. We are unfortunately not that far removed from the Boston Marathon bombing. What this meant was that there are many movie goers that already know how the story goes. Is this a huge problem? No, but it takes away a certain level of concern.
Luckily, this was such a passionate incident that I feel most people seeing this movie will look past the fact that they know how it ends and will enjoy the movie anyway. I also want to point out that I do not think the filmmakers should have fictionalized, and changed the story just to be unpredictable. They were kind of stuck between a rock and a hard place here. Either they told the story as it happened and end up making a predictable movie, or they change it up for the sake of being unpredictable and irritate many audience members for fictionalizing a tragic event like this. I thought the filmmakers made the right decision, but it was a predictable movie nonetheless.
Pro: Boston Strong (+8pts)
As is the case in many movies, Massachusetts is like it's own character in Patriots Day. You get all the references to local cities. One example of this was Framingham! I mention that city specifically because that is the city where I saw this movie, live twenty minutes from, and the reference got a huge reaction from the audience that I saw the movie with (which made for a fun moment). Anyway, I really liked the representation of Massachusetts and it's citizens. The passion that Bostonians have for that historic city, and the strength that said passion gave to so many men and women who care about their city was powerful to watch. This movie showed the colorful personality of the people that live in Boston and it's surrounding cities. There was some Boston themed humor, and some dramatic passion. At the end of the day, I think the Boston theme added an extra flavor to this movie that made it so much more entertaining to watch.
Con: Surveillance (-1pt)
I really had to dig deep to find a third thing that I did not like about this movie. I say that to convey to you how minor this “issue” was. Anyway, what I came up with was the surveillance shots. This movie really liked utilizing surveillance cameras to shoot the film.
There is one scene specifically where I thought surveillance cameras were necessary (you will know the scene when and if you see the movie), but there are other scenes that unnecessarily cut from film camera to surveillance camera. It was as if the filmmakers were trying to convince the audience that this was a true story, even though everyone knew it was. It was very unnecessary, because they were not scenes that made me question their authenticity. One was a random scene that could have been taken out of the movie all together, the other was an intense scene where we are following a protagonist who is in danger. It just felt unnecessary to cut to a surveillance viewpoint.
Grade: B- (84pts)
This was a good movie, but it could have been better. It was suspenseful and did not hold back when showing the horrific event. I thought there were way too many storylines shoved in here, but that was really my only major issue with the film. I thought the acting could have been more gripping, but I would not go as far as to say it was “bad”, it just could have been stronger. I thought Massachusetts had a strong presence in this movie which really helped the film overall.
This was a strong movie and, while I think it could have been better, I do recommend checking it out. It was not an amazing movie, but I liked it enough. Oh, and be sure to check out the testimonials at the end. I really enjoyed hearing from the real people, and I liked seeing the current status of a certain someone’s fate, as I have not heard anything in a while.