On December 21, 2016, director Peter Berg and actor Mark Wahlberg’s latest collaboration “Patriots Day” was released in select theaters in the Boston area.
The movie re-creates the true story of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing and the four-day manhunt that followed. It focuses on the lives of specific individuals involved in or affected by the bombing, and highlights how these individuals contributed to the big picture. “Patriots Day” accurately depicts the intensity of the bombing and its effects while respectfully honoring those who suffered from the aftermath and those who sacrificed to catch the suspects.
Mark Wahlberg plays Boston Police Sergeant Tommy Saunders, who is one of the only fictional characters in the film. He finds himself on Boylston St on April 15, 2013 to work off a suspension given to him by former Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis, played by John Goodman. Prior to the marathon bombing scene, the film introduces characters that were directly affected by the bombing and manhunt, including newlyweds Patrick Downes and Jessica Kensky, played by Christopher O’Shea and Rachel Brosnahan, MIT Officer Sean Collier played by Jake Picking and carjacking victim Dun Meng played by Jimmy O. Yang.
The film portrays several storylines from different character's perspective of the time from the day before the bombing to the end of the manhunt. Saunders, Davis, Governor Deval Patrick played by Michael Beach and the Boston Police Department work with the FBI to re-create the tragedy and analyze as much evidence as possible in order to identify possible suspects. Eventually, an FBI agent stumbles across footage of a man in a white cap accompanied by a man in a black pack carrying backpacks, later identified to be bombing suspects and brothers Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, played by Themo Melikidze and Alex Wolff.. Meanwhile, the film also shows the Tsarnaev’s brother strangely peaceful home life with Tamerlan’s wife and daughter, as well as their desperation to take the attention off themselves and escape. It also shows Dun Meng’s and Sean Collier’s daily lives and Kensky and Downes struggle to find each other amongst all of the injured.
While this movie definitely gives a spot-on portrayal of this series of events, what really caught my eye was how real this movie seemed. The footage in the film that served as surveillance footage from the marathon, MIT and Watertown was the actual footage taken back in 2013. Much of the cast, particularly John Goodman and Alex Wolff, bore a striking resemblances to the real-life people they were portraying. It humanizes the characters by showing their average every day life before and after the bombing; for example, it shows the Tsarnaev family fighting over who will get milk for Tamerlan’s daughter.
Being from the Boston area and being able to recall these events from a citizen’s point of view, Berg offers normal, every-day people like myself the opportunity to view the story from an inside point of view. This allowed the audience to discover things previously unknown to them, such as the arguments had by the FBI and Boston Police over whether or not to release the pictures of the suspects and how the FBI literally re-created the marathon scene. The film’s dark and gloomy tone helps the audience from outside of the Boston area visualize how grim the time of the bombing was for Boston and its surrounding areas. Many of the scenes from “Patriots Day” were filmed in the Malden area, so you’ll see a lot of familiar places including New York Pizza, China Garden and The Big A Sub Shop.
Overall, Patriots Day is a riveting re-telling of the Boston Marathon and the events that follows. It precisely captures the events and emotions felt during that week, from the fear of citizens after the bombing to the relief and hope that filled Massachusetts once Tsarnaev was arrested. It notably honors the four people that died that week as well as the police and law enforcement that fought and sacrificed to get the people of Boston the justice they deserved. This is a movie that people from the Boston area will respect, as well as a film that people from elsewhere will enjoy for its message of hope for other places around the world that have experienced similar attacks.
“Patriots Day” will be released in theaters across the U.S on January 13.