Patriots Day


A balanced, smart look at a real-life atrocity with Mark Wahlberg Discuss this article

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Four years back, when the brawny Battleship was rampaging round your local multiplex, Peter Berg was not necessarily the filmmaker you’d have trusted to fashion a thoughtful drama around a real-life terror attack.

Recently, though, he’s regained the light touch of his earlier, less shouty, stuff. Mere months after Deepwater Horizon successfully married steely action smarts to a beating heart, he teams up again with Mark Wahlberg for this muscular, street-level dramatisation of 2013’s Boston Marathon bombing. Balancing the perspectives of perpetrators, policemen and victims with wiry tension and tender human interest, it’s not the rah-rah flag-waving exercise the title promises. Instead it expands across a city first paralysed, then galvanised, by tragedy.

As fictional, headstrong cop Tommy Saunders, stationed at the finish line when twinned explosions kill three and wound hundreds, a sterling Wahlberg is only ostensibly the hero. Rather, the film divides its attention between a host of participants in the ensuing manhunt – from unglamorous local police sergeants to the courageous Chinese immigrant (Jimmy O. Yang) kidnapped by the panicked Chechen bombers.

Nervily played by Alex Wolff and Themo Melikidze, they too are characterised with commendable restraint, neither demonised nor over-analysed. Still, it’s one of the terrorists’ wives (Melissa Benoist) who carries the film’s most riveting and provocative scene, staunchly defending their actions in the face of her unsparing interrogator (Khandi Alexander). Amid its expert on-the-run action, Patriots Day does some of its best work sitting down.

The bottom line
A balanced, smart look at a real-life atrocity.

By Guy Lodge
Time Out Abu Dhabi,

Patriots Day

  • Duration: 133
  • Released: Tue, 13 Dec
  • Language: English
  • Director: Peter Berg
  • Stars: Mark Wahlberg, Michelle Monaghan, J.K. Simmons

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