It’s been three and a half years since two pressure cooker bombs exploded at the finish line of the Boston Marathon. Now, ‘Patriots Day’ takes you back and throw you right into the day of the shocking attack and the dramatic hunt for the killers. You won’t want to miss it.
April 15, 2013, the day of the 117th running of the Boston Marathon, dawned beautiful, sunny and calm. The city went about its annual business of putting up guardrails, blocking traffic, setting up sponsor booths and organizing police officers, while runners began stretching and getting into their warm-up gear.
Patriots Day director Peter Berg does a brilliant job of setting the scene of a city, enjoying its normalcy, without any prescience of the events which would literally blow up the joy and excitement of the world’s oldest annual marathon.
Veteran Sergeant Tommy Saunders (Mark Wahlberg) works out in his basement before pulling on his uniform, kissing his wife and heading out to his position at the marathon’s finish line.
It’s through his eyes that we see all that unfolds over the next three days until one of the two Tsarnaev bomber brothers is apprehended alive.
Berg and Wahlberg take us into the cheering crowd at the marathon finish line. Families, lovers, college students, babies in strollers are all pushed up into the guard rails, completely oblivious to two Kyrgyzstan-born brothers, now living in Boston, who saunter purposefully into their midst with death in their backpacks.
The ordinariness of the scene contrasted with the ordinariness of the way the bombers prep for their evil mission, strikes a chilling chord.
These brothers, who had been leading relatively successful lives — one as a boxer, with a wife and toddler daughter, and the other as a college student — eat cheerios and watch TV, while packing bombs into their backpacks.
There’s little indication in the film of why or how the pair became radicalized. Berg told a group at a Peggy Siegel organized lunch in NYC that this was intentional. “We didn’t want to provide any insight into the bombers that would provide justification for their psychotic behavior,” he explained.
However, the motivation of virtually everyone else in the film is clear — the first responders, the police, the FBI investigators and even the victims and their families. They have only one motivation, and it is love. Within seconds of the two bombs exploding, tearing limbs off and tearing lives away, help of every kind runs into the mayhem to assist the victims. Strangers apply tourniquets with their belts, hold pressure on bloody wounds, and carry victims into ambulances, holding their hands.
The message that rings loud and clear through Patriots Day is that the bombers hate-fueled attack is a failure. They may have killed a heartbreakingly sweet 8-year-old boy and two beautiful young women, but they were no match for the strength of the Boston community.
The film brings you firsthand into the hastily set up FBI command central, helmed by real life special agent Richard DesLauriers, played with convincing intensity by Kevin Bacon. It was there that investigators meticulously poured over video tapes of the crowd and investigated citizen tips.
The cameras take you along with the police as they hunt down every lead, bursting into Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s (Alex Wolff) college dorm room, and then into the interrogation room with Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s ice cold Muslim convert wife, Katherine Russell (Melissa Benoist).
The final shootout scene is beyond extraordinary. This was a real shootout with pipe bombs, that occurred on a real, working class neighborhood street, in Watertown, a suburb of Boston.
“None of the officers in the shootout with the bombers had ever fired their weapons before in the line of duty,” Peter Berg explained.
The hardest thing for Wahlberg and Berg was showing the film to the families of the victims who died, Wahlberg revealed.”These were people who went out on a sunny day to cheer people on and were viciously attacked,” added Berg. But ‘the unintended aftermath of horrendous attacks in communities, is love. Love trumps hate.’
“I take great pride in how the people of Boston reacted after this vicious act,” Boston-native Wahlberg said.
You will, too, after you see this film, which is absolutely one of the best of 2016. Do you want to see Patriot’s Day, HollywoodLifers? Let us know!