Movie Review: 'Patriots Day'

John Thomas
Patriots Day features Mark Wahlberg as Boston Police Department Sergeant Tommy Saunders. John Goodman as Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis. J. K. Simmons as Watertown Police Sergeant Jeffrey Pugliese.
We already know the story, but what we don’t know are the stories. With great tenderness and sensitivity, Perter Berg (director) takes us by the hand and leads us through the times before the Boston Marathon bombings, during the actual explosions and the aftermath.
In Berg’s other hand are the cast and crew members he caringly guides, along with the audience in this 2 hour, 10 minute film. These are the personal stories behind the front page headlines or the stories the media may have overlooked or to which they had no access. It is not a film on how to act during a terrorist attack or how to prevent one; it is a story about what took place in Boston on the 15th of April, 2013, and how the Bostonians responded.
During events like this, we see names, titles and work descriptions flashing on TV screens, but do we ever look into the lives of the people shown on TV? Usually not. Perhaps we’re given some background of the perpetuators of these heinous crimes, but do we ever see how they live, what food they eat or what their visions and goals for the future are? No, and we may never know, so Berg provides us glimpses into their lives and thoughts. How often are we shown the real interactions between local law authorities, the federal law enforcers, state and local governments and the citizens on the street, all of whom work towards a common goal?
Here again, the film provides us with an insider’s view of an on-the-ground-look into what really takes place behind bulletproof armor and in the distant law enforcement control centers.
And then, there are the survivors. Throughout the film, actors portray the victims, their friends and families very convincingly. So convincingly that one forgets that is Mark Walberg or J. K. Simmons in police uniforms dashing across the screen and not real peace officers. It is only at the end of the film do we see filmed interviews with the actual survivors. Again, we are given greater insight into the people participating in the marathon, how they coped in the aftermath and what hopes they have for their futures.
No, this is not a feel-good movie, one in which you leave the theater humming the main theme or rushing out to purchase the soundtrack. It is a sad, moving, tragic story, that one really doesn’t want to see or know about, but do see it anyway. Are there any uplifting moments or times when the viewer feels good or happy? Yes there are, and those moments of pride, joy and promise in the American people and our way of life far outweighs the threats and acts of those who criticize us.
In the closing scenes of the film, some of the survivors who were interviewed mention that the first responders to the bombings were not the BPD or the FBI, but L and C - love and compassion responded instantly!



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