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Monday, January 16, 2017

Patriots Day 2016 * * * 1/2 Stars

Patriots DayDirector: Peter Berg
Year: 2016
Rated R
Rating: * * * 1/2 Stars
Cast: Mark Wahlberg, John Goodman, J. K. Simmons

Just recently, I posted my top ten movie picks for 2016. I don't plan on augmenting them but if I did, Mark Wahlberg's latest would defiantly make the top five. So OK, I will now give you my observations for Patriots Day, one of this year's best.

"Day" is directed by Peter Berg. He has done everything from sports dramas to black comedies to hero-ed tributes. Patriots Day is by far his best work. It's the culmination of his ever changing career as a filmmaker. You want a story told based on actual events? Go with Berg and "Day". You want interviews from denizens who lived through said events? Peter Berg is the man. You want cinema that's militarily overwrought? Peter Berg for mayor. Finally, do you want the notion of harmless, unsteady camerawork included? Peter Berg is all over it. Remember when I said that I hoped Patriots Day would fill the void left by Berg's disappointing, Deepwater Horizon? Trust me, it did. Boy did it ever.  

Anyhow, one thing you have to know about "Day", is that it's not a movie merely starring Mr. Mark Wahlberg (his trouper supposedly didn't exist). Yeah he's probably the biggest known headliner and yeah, his name is at the top of the poster. Still, Patriots Day is not that kind of thriller. The more realistic players are the heightened city of Boston, the real-life people that the film honors, and well, the flick's disciplined attention to particulars. "Day" is told chronologically, with title cards listing various characters, various Massachusetts locales, and time allocated after the infamous Boston Marathon bombings ("Day's" main intrigue). It's the info you never knew even though the happenings were all over the media circa 2013.

As a movie, I would've thrown out "Day's" last ten minutes which feel like a separate documentary about the bombing victims. As a paean to said victims however, it seems totally justified. The Boston Marathon bombings signified the truest threat of U.S. terrorism since 9/11. Even though they occurred only three years prior, Patriots Day doesn't give you the feeling that it's too soon for a movie to come out about the whole thing. Heck, Berg as always, has had the utmost sympathy for tragic, true-life happenings anyway.

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Salutes and testimonials aside, "Day's" cast is adequate with well known veterans like John Goodman, Kevin Bacon, J, K. Simmons, and Michelle Monaghan inhabiting all 133 minutes. The music which I feel is everything, is by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross. It's all tops. It's seething and numbing and gives Patriots Day a supremely hard edge to it. Getting back to Peter Berg, well his direction is gritty, intrepid, and balls out. The strongest part of "Day" is when the young bombers are trying to escape. They murder, steal cars, kidnap, and finally have a standoff with police in the Boston suburb of Watertown. This standoff is violent and bloody with guns blazing and explosives erupting. I guess it could offend the people who lived through this experience because it turns "Day" into a sort of Michael Mann action film. Oh well. I found it tension-filled. My heart was racing and my stomach was in my throat. Overall, Patriots Day is powerful and graphic. It's not just a movie, it's an experience. Rating: 3 and a half stars.

Written by Jesse Burleson

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