Patriots Day chronicles the 2013 bombing at the Boston Marathon and resulting manhunt to catch the bombers.
Pro – Compelling
Patriots Day is a really well-made movie. The story is interesting and moves along at a crisp pace. There is a lot to keep track of, especially for those not familiar with Boston, and director Peter Berg makes a judicious use of labels to make sure the audience can follow along with all the locations, key players, and the timing of events. The movie seamlessly weaves real and recreated footage into the film to give it more authenticity. Certainly, creative license is being taken with the true events to create a movie that is entertaining, easy to follow, and fits within the time constraints of a major film. That said, it is handled in a way that pays respect to the real events and the people who lived them. Peter Berg does an excellent job of navigating all the potential pitfalls of producing a film about tragic events not even four years in the past.
Pro – Real People
At its core, this is a film about the city of Boston, the people of Boston, and most specifically the people who were directly involved in the events of those five days. The real skill and gift of this film is the way in which the filmmaker and actors are able to bring those people to life. Small snippets introduce us to some of the victims, and show them engaged in many of the same activates that could punctuate any of our mornings. In doing that, the audience is able to connect directly to those people and put a human face on events that to many, especially outside New England, may have seemed distant and detached. This authenticity extends to the main players in the resultant search and manhunt for the Tsarnaev brothers. Small moments of bravado, horror, and even humor make people on the screen feel real. The Tsarnaev brothers are handled well. Berg deftly shows a peek into their lives without glorifying their cause, actions, or motivations.
Neutral – It’s haunting
I didn’t know exactly how to feel after the credits roll. It’s a great movie, and of course there is excitement and tension and even humor. It’s very entertaining. That said, it also does a great job of making the events of that day, and the days following it, immensely personal. In that sense, it does its job. It pays tribute to the heroes of the day and the resolve of the human spirit, but it’s hard to leave the theater not thinking about the four people who lost their lives, or the number of people whose lives were forever changed by the explosions. I enjoyed the movie, but I almost feel bad for doing so because it’s about real life, with real pain and loss.
Patriots Day is a great movie and the film, and the people it is about, deserve your attention.