Peter Berg has found his niche genre of recent biographical events. His two previous films: Lone Survivor and Deepwater Horizon proved that the director is slowly maturing into a very capable auteur; his most recent film Patriots Day further confirms his progression.
Patriots Day is about the Boston Marathon bombing of 2013. We mainly focus on the perspective of Tommy Saunders (Mark Wahlberg) a Boston policeman at the finish line during the concurring events. We also shift to the viewpoint of the Tsarnaev terrorist brothers (played by Alex Wolff and Themo Melikidze), the Watertown commissioner (J.K. Simmons), and some of the lives of the victims. Overall we start off straight away with the marathon set-up and then the bombing, first responders, and the ensuing manhunt for the terrorists.
One word that could define this film properly is: tension. In Lone Surivivor Berg had managed to find a good theme of action, during Deepwater Horizon it was an emotional core, and during Patriots Day it’s an elongated and constant tension. Even though one knows the outcome of the story, the repressed manner in which the story starts, and the great holdover and fast pace keeps us all on the edge of our seats throughout.
But if there is one thing that I have to draw back from the film it’s a diffusion of this extremely captivating tension during the final part of the manhunt. While it may seem that Berg is trying to portray a sense of realism, in how the investigation seemed to cool down, you can’t help but urge the film to speed up a bit, for entertainment’s sake.
I also felt that there were some parts of the film that seemed to shift to a cheesy blockbustery tone; with characters spewing one-liners that seem completely out of place. It took away from the seriousness of the subject, and to a point it could almost be taken as disrespectful. Because of these few flaws in the final acts of the film, the total emotional impact is also dulled so that you simply take the film as an informative piece rather than an inspirational one.
Overall though the film was extremely enjoyable and a recommended viewing. The incredible tension holds out for most of the film, and Berg’s vision comes through as he settles in a perfect genre for his style of directing.