Film Review: Patriots Day

4/5

The Boston Marathon bombings were difficult to stomach on 15th April 2013. The Western World faced bombings for, what it felt like for my generation, the first time. It was the first time we were old enough to interpret what was going on: we were just one when the Twin Towers fell and only five when 7/7 happened. Boston was one that we could begin to understand.

It was brought back to life again in 2016/17 with the Hollywood blockbuster Patriots Day starring Mark Wahlberg as Sergeant Tommy Saunders, a fictional character, but one which represents the policing body of Boston. It’s really the only thing that lets the film down, but when you see Patriots Day, you understand it would have been so incredibly difficult to make it work so well without the character of Sgt Saunders.

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Wahlberg as Sgt Saunders

Wahlberg’s portrayal of Saunders is excellently executed and, as a Boston native himself, I imagine the story was an important one for him to tell. However, Wahlberg’s acting is not the only merit of the film. From the script to the way the plot flows so well, Patriots Day is impressive from beginning to end – and emotional too. It is factually accurate (all apart from Sgt Saunders, of course) as it represents the real stories of many victims of the attack, including Jessica Kensky and Patrick Downes – a couple who were both seriously injured in the attacks and had to have limbs amputated as a result.

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The boat in which one suspect hid from police while on the run, also featured in the film

Pace is such an important part of any film and Patriots Day should act as a guide to pace for all filmmakers. It’s quick but it’s right and there are moments of pain and beauty and terror throughout. The portrayal of the real-life car-napping incident, in which the two bombers hijacked innocent citizen Dun Meng’s car – with him in it – is gripping. I had to Google straight away if it actually happened because it was so incredibly unreal. Once you know it was all true, the execution of this part of the film, the bombings themselves and the street shoot-off with the bombers, makes you realise how dedicated the crew on Patriots Day really were. And rightly so.

I’d recommend this film to absolutely anyone. It does the victims justice, the city of Boston and the police service justice. It’s a brilliant piece of work. Do not believe otherwise.