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.


Deepwater Horizon

GoMovieReviews Rating:

Action/Drama           Rated: MDeepwater Horizon

Director: Peter Berg

Screenplay: Matthew Michael Carnahan and Matthew Sand

Screen Story: Matthew Sand

Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Kurt Russell, John Malkovich, Gina Rodriguez, Dylan O’Brien and Kate Hudson.

Based on the article written by David Barstow, David Rohde and Stephani Saul: ‘Deepwater Horizon’s Final Hours’, Deepwater Horizon is about one of the largest man-made disasters to have ever occurred.

Ultra-deep-water drilling off the coast of Louisiana, the rig suffered a massive blowout after pressure caused oil to explode up the pipeline.  The oil then caught fire destroying the rig.  The disaster killed 11 people and leaked 50,000 barrels of oil into the ocean for 87 days.

Deepwater Horizon is about putting the audience in the midst of the disaster, about pressure from the depths hard to fathom.  In fact, the whole scenario is difficult to get my head around because I’m not an engineer nor a deep sea drilling technician that understands drilling and pressure and the forces of rotting dinosaurs from a previous millennia.  And there isn’t a requirement to have this knowledge as the film shows the staff, doing what they do, without dumbing it down for the audience.

The story is shown in a way where you get it.  That the mud is used to contain the pressure of the oil, so that if it’s oozing up the pipes onto the rig, that’s a bad thing: the mud isn’t stopping the pressure.  And if that dial goes to a psi in the red area of the dial, that’s a very bad thing.

That’s what I liked about the film.  Being right there with the people working on this monstrous rig.

Mark Wahlberg as the Transocean chief electronics technician, Mike Williams, gives a great performance as an everyday guy doing his job.  And Kate Hudson as the wife waiting at home keeps the cheese to a minimum – it’s all about down-to-earth folk just dealing with it.

Wahlberg and director, Peter Berg, have worked together previously in the film, Lone Survivor.  Another survival story about making tough decisions. Berg doesn’t use cheap tricks to tug the heart strings, he just tells a tale with an authentic flavour and Wahlberg plays the no-nonsense hero well.  And the simplicity and straight forward telling of Deepwater Horizon gave the story more impact and power.  It was left to the audience to feel the emotion.

I love a good techy film and Deepwater Horizon filled the bill with great camera work to show the scale undertaken to drill into the depths of the ocean; and the explosion and visual spectacle of the disaster was totally believable on screen.

There was a glossing over of the politics of dealing with BP, but covered by the interaction between Donald Vidrine, the BP company man played by John Malkovich (he plays a villain just so well) and Kurt Russell as Mr. Jimmy who was the offshore installation manager.

Rather than the politics or emotional drama, Deepwater Horizon was more about the confrontation of the disaster itself.  And I liked that.

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