Patriots Day is the latest offering from Peter Berg, only a few months removed from his Also-Based-On-A-True-Story epic Deepwater Horizon. Fans of that film will find plenty of similarities in this, a dramatization of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, especially in terms of the handheld shaky-cam cinematography and understated score courtesy of Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross. Though the film starts off on a somewhat lively, upbeat note, packed with enough Boston clichés and near-constant reminders of the year in which the film takes place, when the actual event occurs, Patriots Day immediately shifts into an entirely different, understandably darker tone.
Cast-wise, everyone does an acceptable job, with Mark Wahlberg again starring in a Peter Berg film once more rolling out that Boston accent which by now unfortunately just sounds like he’s playing his character from Ted over & over. His character, a composite of several individuals from that fateful day, fits him perfectly, again showcasing his ability to play an everyman with the greatest of ease. Michelle Monaghan as his wife is average at best, while John Goodman, Kevin Bacon and J. K. Simmons as law enforcement officials all bring a fair amount of gravitas to their performances as real-life individuals who helped in the post-bombing investigation (and subsequent manhunt). Furthermore, let it be said that the bombing sequence, as well as the inevitable confrontation with the perpetrators that took place in Watertown, are filmed in a manner similar to Deepwater Horizon's climactic explosion-devoid of music and allowing the action to take center stage. Both scenes are truly intense and not always for the faint-hearted.
Sure, the accents many of the characters sport don't always work, nor do the actors themselves commit to said accents 100% of the time. Patriots Day is still a unique film, one that seems to accurately tell the story of that fateful time four years ago and the many people who helped save the day. Seeing characters that had been previously separated from their loved ones during the event eventually reunite is as heartwarming as it sounds, while an epilogue featuring footage & interviews with many of the real-life individuals portrayed in the film offers a nice postscript to the story as well. A true companion to Deepwater Horizon, Peter Berg has proven to have a knack for bringing some of America's worst moments to the screen in a manner that helps to preserve history, while reminding us that humanity truly has the ability to come together when said moments rear their life-changing head. This, I believe, is Berg's goal, and if that continues to remain his intentions, I welcome his movies as a Boston Marathon runner welcomes that sensation as they cross the finish line.