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Patriots Day Movie Review

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Mark Wahlberg and Peter Berg are quickly becoming one of the best duos in the industry. Do you remember when the pictures of partners were going around the Internet with a caption that said “Name a Better Duo?” I think we have a qualifying duo with Peter Berg and Mark Wahlberg. I love both Lone Survivor and Deepwater Horizon, so I was extremely excited to see Patriots Day. It might have been kind of soon, but I assumed that Peter Berg and Mark Wahlberg would handle it well. I think if they’ve shown anything, it’s that they handle these kinds of events with respect and respect alone. Let’s see if they did it again with Patriots Day!

Patriots Day is directed by Peter Berg and stars Mark Wahlberg, J.K. Simmons, John Goodman, Kevin Bacon, and Michelle Monaghan. On Patriots Day, Boston residents can do one of three things: run in the marathon, watch the marathon, or get down to Fenway to cheer on the Sox. On April 15, 2013, two men didn’t plan on doing any of the three. Two bombs exploded near the finish line of the Boston Marathon, and Patriots Day follows multiple groups of people who were affected by the incident.

Well, Peter Berg and Mark Wahlberg have done it again. This movie is so good that I don’t even want to say that they did it again. They might have topped themselves with this movie. I absolutely adore Patriots Day, and Wahlberg and Berg might just be my favorite duo taking on true stories now. I truly believe I would take them over any other actor-director combo to tackle a painful true story. Patriots Day isn’t just well-made. In fact, that should completely take a back seat to the actual importance of the film. This movie is respectful, and it was made with such great taste. It didn’t glorify anything or anyone. It simply told the story of a group of people coming together to create a better whole. So often we see horrible events take place and say that we’ve lost our faith in humanity, when in reality, this is what needs to happen. We need to reassess the situation and see how the event can bring us closer together and unify us as people. All of the different checkpoints and the finale of the story perfectly display this. The Boston Police Department must cooperate with the FBI, and both must cooperate with a nearby town’s police department. Maybe all three have different ways of accomplishing tasks, but that wasn’t important in Patriots Day. It was important that they realized their differences and used them as strengths to come together and solve the case. While it’s so beautiful and necessary, it’s also extremely pertinent to what is happening in our world today, and Berg covers everything with the correct amount of care and detail. Peter Berg always seems to do the best thing a filmmaker can do: make you care. You don’t just care about one person or even two. You care about every single person in the film no matter their relation to the story or how much screen time they have. He invests you completely through emotions and his ability to bind people. I haven’t seen a movie in years that had an audience as invested as Patriots Day did. The entire audience would constantly laugh together and clap together, and this is a movie with psychological and emotional effects that resonate off the screen. It has the power to unify an audience through a story about unification.

I was locked into the film for the entire runtime, and one of the most fascinating things about the film is how Berg uses actual security footage of these men, and it’s kind of amazing to see how our intelligence can track and document events the way it can. It almost tells a story all by itself. If this wasn’t even a movie, I could watch the security footage be pieced together, and I’d still be hooked. The real security footage is some of the most fascinating stuff in the film, and it was used in perfect moderation and gave the film a more real and eery tone with the amazing Peter Berg score. Trent Reznor composed the score, and it’s so essential to this film. Berg always seems to get scores that perfectly nail the tone while also making it feel like the movie is creeping down our spines. It’s a great score, but it doesn’t always give a great feeling. There are some scenes in this movie where it feels like my fingernails are being bent backwards by the score. You know music is truly powerful when it can do that. As I mentioned, Berg’s direction is excellent. This is a beautifully told movie with amazing pacing. He might be the real star of this movie, but his muse, Mark Wahlberg, isn’t falling far behind. Wahlberg gives a performance in this movie worthy of an Oscar nomination. I really hope he is nominated because he killed it in this role, and it’s one of his best. It’s such a powerful and layered role, and he felt like a real character. He made this movie feel like I was watching this event play out in real time. The performances from the supporting actors are excellent, as well, but Wahlberg and Berg really shine together. Leading the supporting performances is Kevin Bacon who plays an FBI agent. Kevin Bacon was so good, and he blended into the role. The entire cast had great chemistry and worked together so well that it felt like I was watching their squabbles and triumphs unfold. I felt like I was in Boston on that tragic day. Finally, I learned a lot in this movie. I had a basic understanding of what had happened on that day, but I never fully appreciated the hard work that went into this and the events of the following days. The days following the explosions were kind of hazy for me, but this movie illustrates in the perfect amount of detail what actually happened.

I loved this movie so much that it’s difficult for me to talk about things that I didn’t like, but here it goes. I think Patriots Day had a couple of missteps in the introductory scenes, which is where Berg’s movies tend to have their missteps for me. It wasn’t bad at all, but it did feel like the movie stressed the issue about who some characters were. The characters were completely fleshed out, but they had this straightforward road to drive on that made the audience say, “Oh. Okay. These are the cowboys,” or, “Oh. Okay. This is the loving couple.” They had more to them, but for the time being, we were supposed to associate them with that one trait. Finally I would say that there was one out-of-place joke in the film. It wasn’t distasteful, but in the middle of an incredibly intense scene, the entire audience broke into laughter, and I thought it was a bit out of place. I can definitely see both of those problems actually being fixed entirely on another viewing if I can get myself to watch Patriots Day again. I also want to address a problem that I’ve heard. I’ve heard that people think that this movie is insulting because Mark Wahlberg’s character is not a real, singular person. I had absolutely zero problems with that. This movie isn’t about glorifying Mark Wahlberg or glorifying one person. It’s about telling this story of how an entire city and its officials came together to become a greater whole after a tragic event. It’s not supposed to be a giant tribute to this one man. It’s showing the audience the power of people and the power of unity while also simply showing how the Boston Police Department went about their business with the FBI and the Watertown Police Department.

Overall, Patriots Day is a movie that needs to be seen. It’s not just one of the best movies of the year; it’s one of the most important movies of the year. We’re at a point in this world where we need something like Patriots Day. So often we see something tragic happen around the world and decide that we don’t have faith in humanity. This movie says that we should come together and make something positive out of our negatives. On top of the fact that this is an important, respectful, and tasteful movie, it’s amazingly well-made by Peter Berg, and he and Mark Wahlberg are quickly becoming one of the best actor-director duos in Hollywood. Peter Berg constantly does the best thing a director can. He makes you care. I was locked into this movie the entire time, it looks great, it sounds great, and it’s an emotional investment. I would love to see some Oscar nominations for this movie because it’s something that needs to be seen, and it’s truly one of the best films of 2016. I’m going to give Patriots Day a 9.5/10.

With a slow week in movies, I’d definitely suggest checking out Patriots Day. Also out this week are The Bye Bye Man, Live by Night, Sleepless, and Monster Trucks, so what will you be seeing? Let me know down in the comments! I should have reviews for all of those over the weekend (maybe with the exception of Sleepless), so be sure to stay tuned for those! As always, thank you, and keep listening to 88.7 The Pulse!

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Justin Lyons

Hey, it's Justin Lyons! I am the Chief Film Critic for The Pulse. Have any questions for me? Please feel free to email me at [email protected]