The Movie: Patriots Day
The Director: Peter Berg (Deepwater Horizon)
The Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Kevin Bacon, John Goodman, J.K. Simmons, Michelle Monaghan, Christopher O'Shea, Rachel Brosnahan, Jake Picking, Lana Condor, Jimmy O. Yang, Melissa Benoist, Alex Wolff, Themo Melikidze, John Fiore, and Khandi Alexander.
The Story: Based on true events, “Patriots Day” is a powerful story of a community’s extraordinary courage in the face of adversity and chronicles in detail one of the most sophisticated and well-coordinated manhunts in law enforcement history. - Official Website
Mark Wahlberg and Peter Berg are becoming quite prolific when it comes to teaming up for real life historical dramas having worked together on Lone Survivor and Deepwater Horizon although this story has an even more urgent and timely feel than any of them. Berg is good at cranking up the drama and intensity in his films and the subject matter here is a perfect match. Now, I don't mean that he turns this movie into some sort of action spectacle, the whole thing is told very respectfully and each person's story is treated with great care. The look of the film is very clean and sharp without any camera tricks which allows Berg and cinematographer Tobias A. Schliessler to let the story and characters speak for themselves.
The main character that the story follows is Sgt. Tommy Saunders, played by Wahlberg, who I feel has given his best performance since The Departed, if not the most entertaining. Wahlberg nails the tenacity and ill tempered demeanor that defines the "Boston Strong" mentality and the rest of the cast follows suit with powerful and honest portrayals of all the players involved. Kevin Bacon, John Goodman, and J.K. Simmons all play primary roles on the side of the law and each turns in their typical and reliable performances we have come to expect from them.
What was most interesting to see was how the Tsarnaev brothers, the two villains of the film, would be portrayed and Berg takes great care to keep their humanity intact while showing why and how they decided to commit such a horrible act of terrorism. Don't get me wrong, they aren't portrayed as misunderstood and you don't feel sorry for them. What you do see is a willingness and determination to cause harm for a cause that hits you even harder when you see the aftermath and destruction up close.
Patriots Day is an inspirational movie that shines a spotlight on the unsung heroes who turned tragedy into triumph during one of the worst terrorist attacks ever committed on American soil. Peter Berg has created an intense, urgent, painful, and heartbreaking story that I originally felt we weren't ready for yet but now I feel like it is a movie that everyone needs to see.