A lot of directors have their muse, De Niro and Scorsese, Tarantino and Thurman, Hitchcock and blondes, and now we seem to have Berg and Wahlberg. Their two previous collaborations being the “based on true events” films 2013’s “Lone Survivor” and last years “Deepwater Horizon”. In a world of twenty-four hour news coverage, everyone can recall the Boston Marathon bombing three years ago. Berg, who also co-wrote the screenplay along with six others, tells the story of that bombing and the aftermath that followed. Wahlberg plays Sgt. Tommy Saunders, a cop who is working the finish line on that faithful day. When the chaos ensues, we are put in the middle of it all as we follow the injured, as well as the law enforcement on the ground in their pursuit and famous capture of the ones responsible for the heinous act against innocents.
Invoking a sense of tension is something that director Berg knows how to accomplish, and “Patriots Day” is no different in that regard. Most of the just over two hour run time is spent on the edge of your seat, even when you know what is coming. Certainly a sign of a good movie. What the film also does well is fill in the gaps to give you the complete picture of the bombing and the hundred plus hours after it took for it all to end. There is well-placed humor to ease the tense scenes, and Wahlberg fits right in this movie, being from Boston, being a Boston cop was not a far stretch for him. Wahlberg’s Saunders is the one link that connects every part of the story with the other parts even if he’s an amalgam of several real life people. He at times feels like he is placed in a scene to say the right thing, especially with what kind of feels like a false speech about the situation towards the end of the film.
Berg uses actual footage throughout the movie, including surveillance, and the David Ortiz speech at Fenway that was better than anything any of the writers gave Wahlberg to say in his speech. A good cast was assembled, with John Goodman, J.K. Simmons, Kevin Bacon, and Michelle Monaghan, all in support of Wahlberg. The film hums along pretty well, and because of the excellent tension building what we get is an entertaining and thoughtful movie with truly memorable moments. Over the last decade when America has had a tragedy like this, the coming together during and after shows how strong we can be. This film shows that, and makes you feel good about people. While there are some bumps along the way, ‘Patriots Day” in the end does homage to a story not many people will forget anytime soon.