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The City Journals

Dan's Review: "Patriots Day" brings proper reverence to Boston's tragedy

Jan 14, 2017 11:18PM ● By Dan Metcalf

Mark Wahlberg in Patriots Day - © 2016 – CBS Films

Patriots Day (CBS Films)

Rated R for violence, realistically graphic injury images, language throughout and some drug use.

Starring Mark Wahlberg, John Goodman, J. K. Simmons, Vincent Curatola, Michelle Monaghan, Kevin Bacon, Alex Wolff, Themo Melikidze, Michael Beach, James Colby, Jimmy O. Yang, Rachel Brosnahan, Melissa Benoist, Khandi Alexander, David Ortiz.

Written by Peter Berg, Matt Cook, Joshua Zetumer, Paul Tamasy and Eric Johnson.

Directed by Peter Berg.



Movies about terrorism are touchy, especially in the politically charged world we live in. There seems to be so much of it, filmmakers must approach these events with the proper amount of reverence and sensitivity, not mention timing. To many, the bombings the shocked country during the Boston Marathon in 2013, the memories are still very fresh, and the pain is still very real. Peter Berg is a director that has no fear of taking on film projects ripped from recent headlines, including the war on terror (Lone Survivor), the “Gulf” oil spill (Deepwater Horizon) and now the Boston Marathon bombings in this weekend’s release of Patriots Day.

Of all the characters depicted in the film, only one is not based on a real person. He’s a composite of several Boston police officers in the form of Tommy Saunders, played by Mark Wahlberg. The events of the attack have been well documented. Tamerlan Tsarnaev (Themo Melikidze) and his younger brother Dzhokhar Tsarnaev (Alex Wolff) planted two bombs on or near the marathon finish line, that exploded within a 12 seconds and few hundred yards of each other, killing three people and wounding 264 others. Their actions set off a massive manhunt involving law enforcement from all over the metropolitan area. The investigation is headed by FBI  Special Agent Richard DesLauriers (Kevin Bacon), with the assistance of Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis (John Goodman).  Tommy also assists, helping agents retrace the steps of the Tsarnaev brothers after they are identified via video surveillance images from the scene. The brothers shoot and kill an MIT police officer Sean Collier (Jake Picking) on their rampage, eventually kidnapping Dun Men (Jimmy O. Chang) and using his SUV to try and escape the area and continue their attack against western society in New York City. Dun escapes and informs police of the brothers and their intentions. The brothers are tracked to Watertown, where one Tamerlan is killed during an intense shootout involving Watertown Police Sergeant Mark Pugliese (J.K. Simmons). Dzhokhar escapes and is eventually captured.

Patriots Day is an excellent movie, effectively capturing the shock, confusion, fear and intensity of the bombing, while giving due reverence to the victims of the attack. The entire cast is excellent, but Wahlberg’s performance stands out, depicting the emotional toll of the bombing. Some may quibble over the fictionalization of Wahlberg’s character, but there may not have been a better way to represent the team effort that went into the investigation and capture of Tsarnaev. Despite the fictional character (Michelle Monaghan also plays his fictional wife), the movie gets most of the facts straight surrounding the bombing and treats the victims and their families with proper respect and reverence.

Perhaps the most important part of Patriots Day is the epilogue, featuring images of the real people involved in the attacks. It’s an appropriate retelling one of the nation’s darkest days.


Patriots Day Trailer