Movie Review: “Patriots Day”
Tommy Saunders (Mark Wahlberg) is a reputable Boston police officer who had recently been suspended but his last "lame" job, before being put back in field, is to watch the finish line of the Boston Marathon. No one could anticipate the horror that was about to occur and Saunders (along with many other men and women) suddenly had to walk toward the danger, help the wounded civilians and try to catch the men responsible. Patriots Day follows the events leading up to and following the Boston Marathon bombing and we follow some of the men and women there that day, as well as the two men responsible, in this intense retelling of the horrific events.
The Pros & Cons
The Horror (+3pts)
Character Building (-5pts)
The Suspense (+6pts)
Boston Strong (+8pts)
Pro: The Horror (+3pts)
I was curious going into this movie as to whether or not they 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 and not going too far. 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) get too hard too watch. I really got the sense that everyone present during the bombing would be scarred both mentally and emotionally (if lucky enough to be physically okay) for a long time. No one was prepared for this and Patriots Day (again in my opinion as someone who was not in Boston that day) successfully depicted the incident of the horrific Boston Marathon bombing.
Con: Character Building (-5pts)
This was probably the movie's biggest issues. They simply tried to cram in too many stories. If I had too roughly count off the top of my head, I'd say we got four or five side stories OTHER than Mark Wahlberg's 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 from a storyline that you were 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 TV 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. Anyway, it was a movie and as a result, this many storylines made the movie feel cluttered. I think this caused me to not be as invested in any of the characters because I did not have enough time and development with any 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 the 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 support of our protagonists, helped this issue. Following the cops during their pursuit and the now active war-zone known as Massachusetts, gave a real level of intensity. I thought this movie had a decent level of intensity and suspense which was driven by the desire to bring the men responsible to justice.
Con: Predictable (-2pts)
What I think hurt this movie (but not severely) was when the movie came out versus when the incident happened. We are unfortunately not that far removed from the Boston Marathon bombing. What this means is that there will be 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 issue 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 because they are passionate about the story.
I also want to point out that I do not think the filmmakers should have fictionalized and changed the story JUST to be unpredictable. So rest easy knowing that they did not do that.
Pro: Boston Strong (+8pts)
As is the case in so 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! where I saw this movie and live twenty minutes from. 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 passion gave to so many men and women who care about their city was powerful to watch. This movie shows the colorful personality of the people that live in Boston and it's surrounding cities. There is some Boston themed humor, and some dramatic passion. I think the Boston theme added an extra flavor to this movie that made it so much better.
Con: Surveillance (-1pt)
I really had to dig deep to find a third thing that I did not like about this movie so that is why I did not designate many points to this issue. 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 saying "see? this really happened". 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 at the time. It just felt unnecessary.
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 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. Oh and did I just see Supergirl?......this must be Earth 5 or something.
Anyway, this was a "Strong" movie and, while I think it could have been better, I do recommend seeing it whether you do that at a movie theater or at home in a few months. 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...uhhhh "someone's"...fate, as I have not heard anything in a while.