Sunday, 25 June 2017

Patriots Day

Cast: Mark Wahlberg, J.K. Simmons, John Goodman, Kevin Bacon, and Michelle Monaghan

Director: Peter Berg  

133 minutes (15) 2016
Widescreen ratio 2.35:1
Lions Gate blu-ray Region 2
[Released 26th June]

Rating: 8/10
Review by Steven Hampton

Following the director’s docudrama Deepwater Horizon, this crime thriller depicts the events, and the aftermath, of the Boston marathon bombing that shocked America in April 2013. The atrocity occurs while BPD Sergeant Tommy Saunders is on duty at the race's finishing line, and this fictional character, played by Mark Wahlberg, offers the movie’s appealing viewpoint. FBI agent DesLauriers (Kevin Bacon) provides the drama with its keen focus and a winning portrayal of an intelligent investigator aware of the varied faults of the slow-moving federal system. And that's especially a problem when facing demands for an immediate resolution to a crisis in urban law enforcement by the city's police Commissioner Davis (John Goodman).

Patriots Day partly concerns acute sensitivity to multiple trauma cases as the core of its human tragedy, while the storyline also notes the likelihood of media manipulation, about conspiracy theories, and the sometimes bitter irony of who really believes such ridiculous stories of US government responsibility or culpability in horrors like the WTC destruction of 2001. With a fairly weak plot that alternates between profoundly moving episodes of individual courage and survival instincts, and somewhat crude sentimentality about community and nationalism that never escapes from a usual mode of expression in speeches and rallying cries, this movie never quite manages to electrify the cinema screen as it ought to have done.  

However, as he proved with The Kingdom (2007), Peter Berg is extraordinarily capable of directing an exciting and expertly choreographed action sequence, or two. Here, that skill is evident in the dramatic tension of the car-jacking scene, but it explodes into view during the ‘wild west’ night when young villains are firebombing cop cars. In action movie terms, the extended shoot-out on a residential street in sleepy Watertown is a masterclass in suburban-thriller filmmaking that’s just as exhilarating for the 21st century as Die Hard was for the 1980s. The small town cops under siege are the heroes of the hour, and for genuine ‘true grit’ in this impressive sequence, look no further than the great J.K. Simmons as Sergeant Pugliese.

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