A lack of perspective.

Please note the review below may contain minor spoilers - I've done my best to keep them to a minimum.

The not-quite Berg brothers are back once again. If youíre confused Iím obviously referring to director Peter Berg and actor collaborator Mark Wahlberg, as they bring another tragedy to our screens, this time with Patriots Day.

Itís April 15th 2013 in Boston, as we witness temporarily demoted Police Detective Sergeant Saunders (played by Mark Wahlberg) fulfill his beat cop duties in kicking down a locked door to catch a perp - highly unsuccessfully of course.

With his leg injured and laughs from his fellow force to be had, he skulks back home limping, to a sleeping wife (Carol played by Michelle Monaghan) for some tender love and care. Sadly his tumultuous day is yet to end, after being assigned along with practically the entire force in managing security for the city's biggest event - the Boston marathon.

Elsewhere in Boston, within a noisy apartment resides brothers Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev (played by Themo Melikidze and Alex Wolff respectively) along with the elder brothers wife (Katherine Russell played by Melissa Benoist) and daughters as they eat breakfast and get ready for the day ahead.

Unfortunately the two radicalised Tsarnaev brothers have something far more sinister planned for their day, with the pair planning to turn todays Boston marathon into a bloodbath - with the use of improvised explosives of their own making - and attempting to change the city forever.

Sitting here attempting to strum out my review of Patriots Day, whilst encased within the maelstrom of multiple terrorist attacks in my own country is an odd exercise, eerie even. But itís a subject that needs to be tackled within the medium and Patriots Day is a harrowing story that needs to be told, even if it's only to help foster discussion of a subject which is plainly not going away anytime soon.

Every Peter Berg and Mark Wahlberg true life story to movie collaboration thus far, has been attempting to up the ante ever since their debut with Lone Survivor in 2013. Unfortunately the aforementioned Lone Survivor still remains his seminal work of the trio thus far, with Patriots Day suffering from the same filmic comeuppance as their last outing in Deepwater Horizon - itís all a matter of perspective.

The entire world revolving around a single character - in Patriots Day that being the main protagonist of Tommy Saunders (Mark Wahlberg) - is the stuff of fantasy, our world doesnít revolve around a single life - a story does though.

This particular storytelling method is purposeful in trying to weave through the intertwining tale of Patriots Day - and heck itís employed liberally for most movies - but when attempting to recreate and base yourself upon a real life incident, I feel Patriots Day falls at the first realism hurdle because of it.

Patriots Day (Mark Wahlberg, John Goodman, Kevin Bacon, Michelle Monaghan, J.K. Simmons, Jimmy O. Yang, Alex Wolff and Themo Melikidze)

And it all makes sense when you come to understand that Mark Wahlbergís character is indeed a purely fictional and intentional creation; a composite of three entirely different real Police Officers, each involved with the terrorist incident in different aspects. But in trying to tie together its disparate story threads, that amalgamation in Patriots Day has created an experience that blends on screen truth with fiction, leading to the unfortunate sin of contrivity.

In other aspects though Patriots Day shines, from Bergís eye for detail to the inclusion of real characters - such as Jake Picking (as Officer Sean Collier) or Jimmy O. Yang (as Dun Meng) - each with entirely separate stories going about their day, only to be swept into a larger plot unbeknownst to them, feels true to life.

These more documentarian aspects combined with the tension - that Peter Berg is now a veteran in being able to conjure with all his works thus far - blends together, to create a truly unsettling experience. Performances too are on point, with Mark Wahlbergís wholly fictional character fitting right in, even if the coalescing of all his circumstances donít.

The bombers themselves are an odd mix though, with the younger of the pair a little dishevelled in his reasoning from one frame - contemplating whether to go ahead with the plot at all - to the next - being completely ruthless and finding glee in the suffering heís creating - is jarring.

The bigger aspect I fear for Patriots Day though, is finding an audience on store shelves. Like mentioned at the outset, the subject matter is still present in our everyday lives and whilst truly important, I fear potential viewers may not choose to be reminded of their own mortality.

Special Features

Boston Strong: True Stories of Courage - Three stylishly produced, documentary style vignettes, each clocking in around 6-7 minutes long telling three unique stories; a surgeon, the real Dun Meng and Sgt. Jeffrey Pugliese.

Researching The Day - A roughly 10 minute long vignette showing not only director Peter Bergs eye for detail in researching the project, but of the lesser known roles technical advisors play out on set, in recreating the moment-to-moment realism that occurred over those eventful days.

The Boston Bond: Recreating the Tale - A roughly 20 minute long vignette showing the city of Boston, meeting its people - many of whom participated in the film - and the recreating of sets for when filming on those storied streets wasnít quite appropriate for the Boston residents.

The Real Heroes: The Local Heroes Stories - A roughly 20 minute long vignette discussing in details various real life characters interactions with the bombers and the impact it has had on their lives.

The Cast Remembers - A short 5 minute long vignette of practically the entire Patriots Day cast recollecting where they were when the tragedy occurred and how it affected them.

Actors Meet Real Life Counterparts - Two roughly 9 minute long vignettes of actors John Goodman and Jimmy O. Yang meeting their real life counterparts of Ed Davis and Dun Meng, with the pair discussing their stories

If only Patriots Day had included a directorís or cast commentary it would have probably been one of the best set of features Iíve seen on a disc ever. Alas, as it stands without it the blu-ray features are still exceptional, truly delving into every aspect that anyone with the slightest interest in the tragedy or the approach in creating a film from real events should pick up and watch - even if only from an historical point of view.

Patriots Day is truly an intense watch that combined with director Peter Bergís eyes for detail will have you gripped, marred only by the way in which its central protagonist is dealt with, having the compartmentalisation of its narrative serve as a weakness rather than a weapon.

But it's in its special features that Patriots Day truly shines, as it really delves into every aspect of the tragedy and the light at the end of the tunnel in a world still reeling and suffering.

I fear in our current climate Patriots Day may struggle to find an audience on store shelves, but itís definitely recommended for anyone with a single iota of interest in its subject matter.

A Blu-ray review copy of Patriots Day was provided by the distributor for review purposes.

  • Review by
    David Robinson

    Twitter: @5ypher

    Posted on
    26th June 2017

  • 3 Out of 5 Stars
  • Contrived protagonist

    Director's commentary

  • Tense & gripping

    The eye for detail

    Special features

Film Info

Patriots Day Patriots Day
Rating: 15
Release Date: 26th June
Runtime: 2 hr 13 min
Director: Peter Berg
Starring: Mark Wahlberg, John Goodman, Jimmy O. Yang, J.K. Simmons, Kevin Bacon, Michelle Monaghan & Alex Wolff

  • Lone Survivor
  • Deepwater Horizon
  • United 93

No, the movie contains many scenes of violence, gore and murder.

Many scenes were filmed in Boston with actual residents as extras.

Director Peter Berg spent a few months in Boston with Mark Wahlberg before shooting to meet with residents and get a feel for the city.

The film was original a melding of two individual scripts, the first was called 'Boston Strong'.