Director: Peter Berg.
Hasn't been that long since Deepwater Horizon was on the big screen, Peter Berg's previous picture. In fact, not even six months apart. This one being another true story based on the horrifying bombing at the Boston Marathon in April 2013. An event everyone is familiar with, but this film going deeper, describing the aftermath and the events of what happened as a result, the investigation and the eventual manhunt for the suspects.
Berg does very well, like with most of his films, to pay close attention to the humanity of the people involved, making it very personal, profound and incredibly real, because the people they're portraying here are real; and he does so by detailing their everyday life, attitudes and habits. What they were doing on that tragic day, how they spent their morning. The calm before the storm.
We all know what to expect, yet the suspense you feel waiting for the brutal devastation to play out and the way it does really hammers home the horror of what happened, hitting to the core. With superb editing, splicing actual CCTV footage of the day to recreate the shocking devastation and loss that occurred. The film goes on to display the frustrations, the angst and sorrow of the people of Boston, but focusing on what must follow when an event of that magnitude happens, the story unfolding, amidst the aftermath with law enforcement, both national and local, teaming together to catch whoever was responsible and to stop any further carnage. It interestingly covers the politics involved, the dilemmas and the national and global impact it might have, elements some of us might not have thought about.
There's an all star cast that do an incredible honour and hopefully justice to the people portrayed. It would seem unfair to single out Mark Wahlberg as being the lead because I believe that to be so. Yes, he's in majority of the film compared to other key stars like Kevin Bacon, John Goodman and J.K. Simmons, but it's the people that take centre stage through the cast's performances. You can tell there's was so much support from them in making this film. I can't say it's Berg's and Wahlberg best collaboration out of the three films they have done together, believing Lone Survivor to be their best, but that isn't a criticism of Patriots Day. This is a very different film as it concentrates on the people's story.
I was initial expecting Berg's regular composer, Steve Jablonsky to be doing the score but Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross take a step away from David Fincher and compose a good haunting, yet unsurprising score. Lacking any real anthem, it makes up with somber tracks like "Resolve", "We Forget Who We Are" and the more sinister "The Night Drive" and "Escape".
There's these moments of reflection, calmness during the film which allows what is happening to sink in, to remind us what has happening. And there are moments of gung-ho action, showing how clumsy and unprepared the Boston police departments were to an attack of that scale. But it also makes you understand the pressure, the frustration, sorrow and defeat they must have been going through, in their desperation to catch the bombers. There's also moments of surprise comedy, though you immediately feel guilty for grinning to yourself but it again, only enforces our humanity at the craziest of times.
I had no idea of the skirmishes that happened, the city's lockdown and painful brutality that continued hours after but there's a moral message amongst all this, turning the devastation on it's head, and instead of pouring over the lost, anger and hate, it brings to light hope, courage, the strength of human spirit and love; sending a strong clear reminder to everyone about what matters most, even during a time of such great tragedy.
It's an incredible tribute to the people of Boston, a touching, powerful drama that brings it home, that becomes a brilliant testament to the good nature of people and on how we face adversity and crisis. Gripping from start to finish, it's intense, emotional and empowering, Berg's best to date.
Running Time: 9
The Cast: 9
Job Description: 10
The Extra Bonus Point: 10 for being an astonishing tribute to the good people of Boston.