By Jay Hunter – Peter Berg’s final entry in his ‘American crisis trilogy’ was certainly met with a tentative reception when it was announced. Coming just four years after the Boston bombing tragedy, many Americans felt that the movie would be too much, too soon. Whilst the rest of the world was mindful that the film could come off as being crass patriot porn. Surprisingly, Berg manages to sidestep these issues to deliver a genuinely thrilling action movie if nothing else.
An account of the Boston Marathon bombing, Patriots Day is the stirring story of a city’s courage in the face of horrific circumstances. In the aftermath of the attack, Mark Wahlberg embodies police bravery as the fictional Sergeant Tommy Saunders, who joins courageous survivors, first responders and investigators in a race against the clock to hunt down the bombers as they head toward New York City. Weaving together the true composite of Special Agent Richard DesLauriers (Kevin Bacon), Police Commissioner Ed Davis (John Goodman), Sergeant Jeffrey Pugliese (J.K. Simmons) and nurse Carol Saunders (Michelle Monaghan) this gritty tale comes into it’s own in the manhunt portion of the movie, shedding more conventional skins. A thrilling cat and mouse chase with Jimmy O. Yang as the central hostage in particular raises Patriots Day above a standard heroism story.
Although Berg often takes artistic liberties – particularly in the final act – to pack more of a punch into his action. Patriots Day offers a stirring, solidly crafted tribute to the heroes of a real-life American tragedy, with sobering violence, without straying into exploitative action thriller territory.