Patriots Day marks the third time that Peter Berg and Mark Wahlberg have collaborated together, doing Lone Survivor in 2013 and Deepwater Horizon just a few months before the release of Patriots Day. All three of these films address sensitive subjects as they all share the theme of human disaster. Berg’s newest film offers a more in depth look into the tragic events that occurred on April 15, 2013 in Boston when two bombs exploded near the finishing line of the famous marathon, taking the lives of three and injuring over 260 innocent citizens. Not even four years later we have our first film adaptation about the incident with a couple more already in development. Tackling a subject like this so soon can be conflicting. For anyone who knows of Peter Berg they would know him for being a proud American who has the utmost respect for all the soldiers fighting for his country. Depending on who makes this film, maybe an Oliver Stone type, this could easily have been looked at as propaganda but Berg tells this story in a more intimate, orderly fashion. Having Boston’s boy Mark Wahlberg star and produce the film shows that they truly care about the material and want to make it as genuine a film as possible.
Patriots Day introduces numerous characters early on who all have stories that weave into the events of April 15, 2013. Though some could make the argument that the ensemble is underdeveloped, it’s important to realize that this is more than one persons story. Personifying each character gives the audience some backstory into the lives of each character, as we acknowledge them as real people who suffered during the time. The first act does drag at times due to all the changes in perspective but as the film progresses the groundwork that was laid in the first act plays an important part in developing a surreal atmosphere. Towards the end of the second act, into the third is when the tense film becomes flat out spine-tingling as the manhunt in Watertown ensues. Featuring some of his best filmmaking to date, Berg puts us in the middle of the shocking raid that resulted in the city of Boston being on lockdown. Amplified by the haunting score from Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, the conclusion of Patriots Day is bittersweet and will leave you sniffling and wiping a tear or two away.
Many will debate whether or not this film needed to be made, regardless, Patriots Day is a harrowing but necessary watch as it quickly joins the ranks as one of the most respected American films in recent years. Having this material fall into the hands of Berg and Wahlberg was the best case scenario as they nurtured the delicate subject matter and recognized it with no filter. The cast which features Mark Wahlberg, John Goodman, JK Simmons, Kevin Bacon, and Michelle Monaghan all commit to their roles regardless of its size. With two critically acclaimed films within a few months from each other, Peter Berg has found his stride when it comes to bringing recent historical events to the big screen. Patriots Day works better as a suspense thriller than it does as the traditional docudrama that goes from point A to point B and so on. Never exploitative, the film honors the first responders and pays respect to the victims, while rallying a nation.