133 minutes (15)
The Boston Marathon bombings of 2013 were a terrible tragedy, but out of the devastation of the situation, the good in people came out, bringing everyone together to help the victims. And that is exactly the message Patriots Day wants to convey.
On the surface, Patriots Day seems like your typical American patriotism film: bad people from the outside threaten them, and they resurface victorious after catching the bad guys. But luckily, there is much more to it.
The film’s lead is the perfectly cast Mark Wahlberg, in what is one of the few roles in the movie not based upon a real person. But Wahlberg, who gives yet another outstanding performance that will be overshadowed by the style of the film (as it happened with Deepwater Horizon), is only a small part in an ensemble cast that, at first, might look chaotic, but that makes sense as the film progresses.
Precisely because of this big cast, the film feels a bit heavy at times, with scenes that seem to lead nowhere. It’s not until the very end that we understand why we have been given plenty of sequences with characters who didn’t feel relevant to the overall plot.
But if there is one side plot that doesn’t feel forced, that would be the story of the Tsarnaev brothers, the two young men responsible for the bombings. It is refreshing to see a film about a terrorist attack in which the perpetrators are seen in the atmosphere of their own home, justifying in their own way what they are doing. This is the film’s way of telling us that, yes, these two people are awful, but if they did this, it’s because they believed in something.
And to help diminish the tediousness of some character scenes, what director Peter Berg (Deepwater Horizon) gives us here is some of the most memorable action sequences of the year, which manage to be both thrilling and emotive.
The first one is the bombing itself, which is so heartrending that affects the audience like the saddest scene of a tear-jerker drama would, and the second would be the final showdown between the police and the Tsarnaev brothers: it is just pure action and gunshots and explosions, and it is worth every cent the producers have spent on it – and they surely spent a lot.
Some might think that three years is too soon to make a film about such a tragedy, but Patriots Day is nothing if not a cinematic homage to the victims of that terrible event.