Patriots Day: The Story Behind The Boston Bombings

On a bright spring day during April 2013 in Boston, Massachusetts, Police Sgt Tommy Saunders (Mark Wahlberg) is working security during the yearly Boston Marathon. When blasts go off on the track and nearby areas, terrorism is on everyone’s agenda. In the aftermath, as the wounded are carried away and the dead are counted, Saunders and his comrades collaborate with the FBI to bring the perpetrators to justice.

As the case starts to unravel, the guilty party AKA the Tsarnaev brothers see that the authorities are closing in on two suspects, them. When they attempt to escape Boston, a whole string of calamities occur in their wake. To stop them from killing and maiming anyone else, Boston PD conduct a manhunt in partnership with federal agents which would result in many bloody confrontations and a massive lockdown of the city, to make sure there’s no escape from good old fashioned Bostonian justice.

Carol Saunders (Michelle Monaghan) and her husband Sgt Tommy Saunders (Mark Wahlberg) in Patriots Day
(Patriots Day, CBS Films)

Writer and director Peter Berg (Deepwater Horizon) has taken ‘the disaster movie’ to a whole new level of awesome. Patriots Day is nothing short of brilliant. This feature has a great cast of A-listers, including: John Goodman (Trumbo) and J.K. Simmons (The Accountant) with Kevin Bacon (Black Mass) playing well… you know, Kevin Bacon, as Special Agent Richard DesLauriers. They work as a team, reflecting the subtle theme of the movie. This picture is positive and hopeful, yet talks about unity and togetherness. What is it with films set Boston? When it comes to films set in this city, you can’t help but love the locals. They’re a powerhouse within themselves.

Patriots Day centres around fictional character Tommy Saunders (Wahlberg) but tells the true story of the Boston Bombings (2013). When true stories are made into movies, I’m the first one down to the cinema. I was shocked that we were receiving a movie about the Boston Bombings so soon after the events, under four years to be precise. We still haven’t seen a movie of this calibre for 9/11 and that was over a decade ago. Mr Berg, take the hint. From the story to the editing to the raw emotion and visual imagery: Berg along with his cast and crew have churned out a cracking movie.

Tommy Saunders (Wahlberg) is a fictional character but that doesn’t make the story any less real
(Patriots Day, CBS Films)

I’ve never really been a fan of Wahlberg, but under Peter Berg he is fantastic to watch. He’s the lead character but he isn’t centre of attention. Each character gets a good amount of screen time. J.K Simmons seems to be in everything of late: from Kung Fu Panda 3 to Zootropolis to The Accountant to La La Land, and he’s soon to appear in Zack Snyder’s Justice League (November 2017). John Goodman plays Commissioner Ed Davis very well indeed. You can’t help but love Kevin Bacon as the lead FBI agent. He’s got a knack for playing these types of roles and he does them well. He’s found his niche and you can’t knock him for that, as he struts onto the crime scene with that Bacon swagger.

This is a tense thriller that ends on highnote, in the celebration of life as a concept. The depiction of the blasts’ aftermath is uncanny to Ground Zero in the moments immediately after 9/11. It reminded me a lot of the fallout of the Battle Of Metropolis shown in the opening scenes of Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice: emotional, brutal, heart-wrenching and flat out soul-destroying. Saunders’ reaction to this is what makes his character so provocative and he is the very embodiment of the phrase “Boston Strong”, standing tall behind the ideology that fighting terrorism is as black and white as good versus evil.

Kevin Bacon plays Kevin Bacon AKA Special Agent Richard DesLauriers
(Patriots Day, CBS Films)

We soon see it’s more than that, as we are witness to a potent social commentary, told through the eyes of the terrorists and the media. Accused for being anti-Islam, the media helps in the manhunt for Boston’s Most Wanted. This begs the question, are they wrong? It brings some food for thought in a society where building walls is in a constant fistfight with unity. With ace performances, a socially moving script and visual imagery to shock, Berg’s latest film needs to be on everyone’s watchlist.

Approach with caution: this one will leave a lump in your throat long after the film has finished