Rounding off the trilogy of disaster movies Mark Wahlberg has recently been cast in, ‘Patriots Day’ follows in the footsteps of Lone Survivor and Deepwater Horizon to deliver an effective, but never truly outstanding, action thriller that rattles along at a breathtaking pace.
With numerous characters and story lines all playing out at the same time, it’s sometimes difficult to keep up with the dozen characters as ‘Patriots Day’ follows the events of the 2013 Boston Bombing from the 24 hours leading up that day, to the moment they capture and apprehend the second bomber 80+ hours later. The characters themselves are serviceable and they’re all based on real people (except Sgt. Tommy Saunders (Mark Wahlberg) who just kind of exists alongside in some weird parallel to all these characters)
Speaking of which, his character is actually pretty redundant in this film and if you took him out, it would still be an effective thriller and still play out exactly the same way. Whilst I do get the draw of putting a big name actor in here to increase ticket sales, the true heroes here are the residents of Boston City and Director Peter Berg does a fine job in showing a tight sense of community, even if Wahlberg’s character and presence is lost in the scramble.
The theme of love and standing strong runs throughout the film but it’s strange that for a film over 2 hours long, it still feels extremely fast paced as it zips and cuts between characters it sometimes has difficulty keeping track of.
There are moments where the film dips though to be fair that allows the audience to catch their breath. The middle portion in particular between the aftermath of the bombings and apprehending one of the bomber’s wife is a little too slow paced and could have done with being edited a little better. The scene with a Chinese man being abducted and driven around while the bombers talk about how 9/11 was staged by the American people, did nothing to enhance the characters – we already know they’re dangerous and deluded we didn’t need this scene to prove that.
Having said all of that though, ‘Patriots Day’ is a pretty decent thriller considering the subject matter. Although many might see this as a little exploitative – preying on the American people and making a quick buck off the terrorist attack in Boston – the film smartly never feels this way. A few minor character and plot issues aside, the tribute and interviews at the end elevate the film a lot and help show a maturity toward the subject matter that make you forget these inconsistencies. These are real people and this film, in a way, is actually just a tribute to their bravery and sacrifice during this time and for that, I can’t fault Peter Berg on making this film. It’s a decent action-thriller that ticks all the boxes but never steps outside its comfort zone.