Director Peter Berg for a while has been on the brink of producing something special. He may have had a number of blips with the likes of Hancock and Battleship, but he has also produced some impressive docudramas including The Kingdom, Lone Survivor and last year’s Deepwater Horizon. His latest venture, Patriots Day, sees him take on the story of the 2013 Boston bombings – and it is the movie that takes Berg’s directing prowess to next level.
The film follows the true events of the bombings as well as the incredible subsequent events when two brothers, Damerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, target the finish line of the Boston marathon with a pair of homemade bombs, killing three people and injuring hundreds more. Detective Tommy Saunders (Mark Wahlberg, who is also the only fictional character in the movie) was on duty at the time of the explosions and is seemingly our main protagonist throughout the movie.
All other characters in the film (barring Michelle Monaghan’s role as Tommy’s despairing wife) are real life accounts from victims Jessica Kensky (Rachel Brosnahan) and her partner Patrick Downes (Christopher O’Shea) to all police officials including Commissioner Ed Davis (John Goodman) and Sergeant Jeffrey Pugliese (J.K Simmons). Along with FBI Special Agent Richard DesLauriers (Kevin Bacon), they play huge roles in the aftermath of the bombings, searching tirelessly for the two brothers in quite an amazing few days in Boston. The movie ends with touching interviews and images from the day which you can’t help but feel moved by.
Berg has a knack of mixing together devastation and sentimentality. We are introduced to Boston on the morning of the bombings as a quirky, lazy place with a number of wise cracks from all the characters – an easy going opening to the movie. But as a result, we are immediately invested in the characters, including the two brothers with whom we ascertain their motives and background of throughout – discovering more about the antagonists is another admirable trait of Berg’s.
The scene of the explosions isn’t over-egged by Berg, but from this moment on the audience is gripped by the pure tension the subsequent events exploit. And these said events are quite incredible – it’s almost best to go into the movie without knowing too much of what happened in the days that followed.
Berg doesn’t struggle with the high number of character profiles – in fact Wahlberg’s role isn’t necessarily outdoing anyone else, he is just one of the many heroes that Berg is patriotically portraying. As a result, Patriots Day is some of his best work. It’s a captivating watch, incredibly moving and a true homage to all the victims and heroes of the tragic events of those few days.