Patriots Day

GoMovieReviews Rating:

Rated: MPatriots Day

Director: Peter Berg

Producers: Scott Stuber, Dylan Clark, Mark Wahlberg, Stephen Levinson, Hutch Parker, Dorothy Aufiero and Michael Radutzky

Screenplay by: Peter Berg, Matt Cook and Joshua Zetumer

Based on the book: ‘Boston Strong’ by Casey Sherman and Dave Wedge

Soundtrack: Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross

Starring: Mark Wahlberg, John Goodman, Kevin Bacon, J. K. Simmons, Michelle Monaghan

Based on true events surrounding the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings, Patriots Day details the hours leading up to, during and immediately following the attack which killed three people and seriously injured over 270 bystanders, sixteen of whom lost limbs.

Director Peter Berg and star Mark Wahlberg previously collaborated on the disaster flick Deepwater Horizon (2016), and their combined talents have enabled them to effectively recreate the Boston Marathon bombings with gritty realism.

Shot in a semi-documentary style, using hand-held cameras to capture the raw immediacy of events, the film effectively incorporates archival footage from the 2013 marathon. I think of this style as “shaky cam” and by the three-quarter mark of this 133-minute feature I was feeling very queasy, so if you prefer smoother camera work it might be best to sit far back from the screen. The synthesizer soundtrack music became repetitive and intrusive at times and a bit distancing, where silence might have worked better.

The actual bombing sequence wasn’t a surprise because most people know it happened, so the first half of the film focussed on establishing who would be directly affected by the bombings and allowed the audience to become attached to these people. The explosions were effectively staged and edited, and quite graphic without dwelling too much on the gruesome severed limbs.

After a slow patch the tension increased during the second half when the police and FBI manhunt turned to identifying and tracking down the perpetrators of the bombings.

Star Mark Wahlberg portrayed a fictional police officer, an amalgamation of several actual officers, and I felt he was the weakest link because he wasn’t based on a real person and his backstory was largely irrelevant. The sequence where the FBI call on his extensive knowledge of Boston streets to retrace the two bombers’ steps with technicians who then scroll through CCTV footage to find the culprits, really challenged credibility. Surely there would be effective IT software to achieve this without relying on the memory of one sleep-deprived man!

The home-grown terrorists (brothers) were not given much obvious motivation for their actions, aside from a short conversation with the owner of a hijacked car. The first shoot-out with the two terrorists when one of them was critically injured and captured seemed quite over the top with extensive gun fire, home-made bombs exploding and general mayhem ensuing, but a check of the facts indicates it really happened this way.

Boston and its people came across as the real heroes of this inspiring film, with the term “Boston Strong” becoming a rallying cry of hope and love in the face of horror.

What really got to me, however, was not the capture of the remaining terrorist but the photos of the three victims who had died at the scene, particularly the eight-year-old boy, whose sheet-covered body had to be left in situ until all crime-scene forensics had been completed.

That heart-rending photo of innocence really brought home the sheer waste and tragedy of this horrific event.


The Most Underrated True Crime Movies Ever Made

Despite all the horrors criminals perpetrate, despite how terrifying a real gangster, mobster or murderer truly can be, one thing is certain: when it comes to movies, we as a people love crime. There is something intrinsically interesting about getting into the heads of degenerates as they break the law and seek ways to avoid getting caught.

It’s no surprise then that True Crime stories are some of the most well-received films. Some are well remembered, while others are unjustly forgotten. With a new generation of viewers, there’s some real value to be gained by looking back and thinking about just what is still worth watching.

 “GoodFellas” (1990)

No matter how many times I see “GoodFellas,” it remains one of my favorites. I don’t mean to suggest it was underrated in its time either—ratings for the film are superb overall. But today, over twenty years later, new audiences may not have heard of the movie much less seen it. For that reason, I list it first.

“GoodFellas” is not the original story about working for the mob (others existed before it), but it is based on the biography of Henry Hill, a former mobster who is eventually forced to turn in his friends and bosses to save himself and his wife. Of course, there’s much more to the story than that. “GoodFellas” gives some excellent insight into what it was like to be a Mafioso, both the good and the bad.

“Heavenly Creatures” (1994)

Our next film is perhaps a little stranger. Based on a well-known murder in 1954 known as the Parker-Hulme murder case, the story follows Pauline Parker and Juliet Hulme as they conspire to commit (and then naturally follow through) murder. Their target is Pauline’s mother.

While this is another film that received praise, it was actually a New Zealand film, which isn’t surprising considering the original murder took place in New Zealand. And although the center of the origin story is murder, the film focuses much more on the development of the two protagonists’ relationship as things slowly get worse.

 “In Cold Blood” (1967)

One of the biggest challenges in keeping good movies alive is the huge difference in production value between now and then. This is certainly true for “In Cold Blood,” with its fiftieth birthday just around the corner. The entire film is black and white, so it definitely has that old movie look to it. But make no mistake: the use of black and white is entirely intentional.

Like “GoodFellas,” this film is based on a book that was written about true events—in this case, the murder of the Clutter family. Perry Smith and Dick Hickock conspire to rob the Clutters’ house, but their crime instead escalates into a quadruple murder which leads them to flee the country. Their eventual return leads to their arrest and conviction, but not before some very dramatic interrogations.

Contributor: Caroline loves true crime stories, whether they’re depicted on screen or through audio alone. As an entertainment enthusiast and internet security specialist, the minds of criminals fascinate her.  If you’re interested in some of her other works, check out Secure Thoughts or Culture Coverage.