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Patriots Day (Mark Wahlberg) - DVD Review

Patriot's Day

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 5 out of 5

PETER Berg follows-up his angry but brilliant real-life disaster flick Deepwater Horizon with an unexpectedly compassionate look at the Boston Marathon bombing and its aftermath in Patriots Day.

In doing so, he continues the hot streak he is currently on, off the back of both that oil rig disaster dramatization and Navy SEAL tragedy Lone Survivor.

A multi-stranded account of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, this predominantly unfolds from the perspective of the trio of law enforcement officers who both witnessed and then investigated the double explosions that claimed several lives and injured countless others on April 15, 2013.

First and foremost, there’s Mark Wahlberg’s Sgt. Tommy Saunders (a composite of several real-life characters), who witnesses the bombs going off and then was at the forefront of the subsequent search for suspects.

Then there’s BI Special Agent Richard DesLauriers (Kevin Bacon) and Commissioner Ed Davis (John Goodman), who must act fast to prevent the terror suspects striking again, as well as Sergeant Jeffrey Pugliese (JK Simmons), who unwittingly found himself at the forefront of the gun battle that brought an end to the terrorist threat.

On a lesser level, there’s the two Chechen-born perpetrators themselves, Tamerlan Tsarnaev (Themo Melikidze) and Dzokhar Tsarnaev (Alex Wolff), whose journey is followed on a more superficial level, as well as some of the survivors who were forced to overcome horrific injuries.

Berg doesn’t shirk away from showing the devastation caused by the actual attack, as well as the confusion of being caught in the moment. And he delivers some genuinely haunting images – with that of the body of a child being watched over by a lone policeman lingering for some time afterwards.

Crucially, however, he doesn’t dwell to manipulate emotions and avoids becoming too jingoistic or flag-waving. He even restrains the anger, somewhat.

Sure, the law enforcement officers who pursue the brothers are driven by anger and a desire to do their jobs, but this never feels over-played for extra dramatic effect; more in keeping with the situation. And then there’s that unexpected element of optimism, of compassion. The overriding message that Berg seems to want people to take away from the movie is one of tolerance and love.

The ‘Boston strong’ sentiment comes to the fore during the film’s final third and has a genuine poignancy attached that’s quietly inspiring. And that’s no mean feat given the fragile state of the world in which we now live… a world in which acts of terrorism on both sides of the Atlantic are now frighteningly commonplace, and in which the images seen in this film are played out again and again in real-life.

Some may lament Berg’s decision to use Wahlberg as a composite figure, while others may rue the uneven focus between the lawmen, the perpetrators and the victims. But then Berg has even made sure that Patriots Day doesn’t outstay its welcome or feel overlong.

Rather, he has crafted an astute, highly absorbing and utterly gripping film that pays tribute to the bravery of many of the men and women involved, as well as offering hope that love can win out against hate and extremism.

It goes almost without saying that his cast are uniformly excellent. But such is the overall quality of Patriots Day, and its emotional punch, that everyone involved deserves maximum credit.

This is an exceptional movie… and one that, sadly, feels even more relevant with the passage of time.

Certificate: 15
Running time: 2hrs 13mins
UK Blu-ray & DVD Release: June 26, 2017