a PATRIOTS DAY musing
Peter Berg and Mark Wahlberg had a great 2016, with this movie and DEEPWATER HORIZON. The latter lands in my “Going In My Blu-Ray Collection” category, and PATRIOTS DAY does as well. But although I loved this movie as a movie, I found myself conflicted with its overall message.
Speaking on the film itself, this movie worked incredibly well, as it evoked so much emotion, so much pride and showed so much strength as a city worked together to stand up to hate. It introduces you to each one of the huge and extraordinary ensemble (who, no matter how small the role, do great jobs), slowly but surely making sure you empathize with each of them. This way, when they’re called upon to serve their purpose in the story, there’s a much stronger connection to their actions, and it works so well. The standouts are definitely Jimmy O. Yang (whom I couldn’t stop laughing at at first because of his Silicon Valley role), and Mark Wahlberg who gives a great performance and whom the film follows. Wahlberg’s character is fictional, and serves as an audience surrogate and the ideal portrayal of good, and probably a mix of different policemen’s stories and personalities. The tension throughout is wonderfully directed, and carefully toes the line of glorifying the action/battlefield.
That line gets dangerously close to being crossed in some scenes, and while the movie studies the Boston community, it doesn’t seem treat its Muslim characters with much respect. These brothers were extremists, and the movie briefly shows or mentions that, but there should have been a deeper look into their motives. Yes, this is through the eyes of Boston and they are clearly the antagonists, but the more interesting movies to me are ones where you can empathize with or at least understand them. But that’s not what this movie is going for, and that’s where I find myself conflicted. Which makes me think if this movie was made too soon after the disaster. It started filming in and around Boston a little less than 3 years after the bombings, and maybe with a little more time in between, this movie wouldn’t be as “controversial”. True story films are best when time has passed and you can dig deep into the good and bad, once hopefully more of the truth has come out. Movies released during/closer to a war or dark time can tend to be propaganda, but time can give us visceral, intense looks at those events, like SAVING PRIVATE RYAN or APOCALYPSE NOW. Wahlberg’s fictional character can be seen as a slight to all the real policemen there on the ground that week, as well.
But again, this movie is not really about that. PATRIOTS DAY is very respectful when approaching its subject, as it takes a stance: that there is evil in the world and that with goodness inside of them can overcome it. It’s an incredibly touching and inspiring story of just how humanity and community can triumph. This is an important and timely story to tell (albeit not well timed, release-wise), and as long as it focuses on its own message it’s trying to send and gets you on the edge of your seat and butt clenched, PATRIOTS DAY entirely succeeds.
RATING: GOING IN MY BLU-RAY COLLECTION
(refer to my rating system here)