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Sunday, December 24, 2017

Stronger 2017 * * Stars

StrongerDirector: David Gordon Green
Year: 2017
Rated R
Rating; * * Stars
Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Tatiana Maslany, Miranda Richardson

It's kind of eerie that Hollywood is so chomping at the bit to put out films about the Boston Marathon bombings. I mean jeez, it was only four darn years ago.

Take for instance, 2017's Stronger (my latest write-up). It's probably the umpteenth movie to take place in "Bahston" (the New Englander's pronunciation of Boston).

Stronger is about Jeff Bauman (played by Jake Gyllenhaal). Jeff attends the Boston Marathon to cheer on his on-again, off-again girlfriend (Erin Hurley played by Tatiana Maslany). As she nears the finish line, a bomb explodes near Jeff which causes him to lose his legs. During the remainder of the picture, Jeff tries to identify one of the bomber suspects. He also renders his battered body through rehabilitation and learns that he'll become a father.

Stronger strangely projects Bauman as the only one who ever suffered in the bombing tragedy. I don't think director David Gordon Green does this by design but it feels like the media is drawn only to Gyllenhaal's dramatis personae as opposed to any other denizen who lost a limb (and there were many).

Related imageSo OK, I loved 2016's Patriot's Day (another tragic, Beantown true story). I loved it so much that I considered it one of the best films of last year. As for Stronger, well I wouldn't include it for this year. With a box office take of $6 million against a budget of $30 million, audiences have spoken just as I have.

Stronger reminded me slightly of 1989's Born on the Fourth of July. What can I say, as a critic movies always seem to remind me of other movies. The basic blueprint is a true to life persona who becomes disabled and then has to deal with the aftermath of his misfortune. The problem with Stronger, is that it's not as compelling or epic as Tom Cruise's Oscar winner. I wanted to shed a tear but alas, there was no real emotional response.

Now don't get me wrong. Stronger has raw acting of the highest order by stars Jake Gyllenhaal and Tatiana Maslany. And for the most part, the flick somewhat succeeds as a depressing, adhesive character study. Nonetheless, everything else in Stronger comes off like a snapshot or a melodramatic, R-rated TV vehicle. The movie lacks a feasible amount of character buildup and insight. And oh yeah, nothing on screen besides the lead performances, appears to be whole.

Added to that, Stronger fails to find a clear resolve. It gives us an abrupt, pat ending with obligatory credits about the real life Jeff along with actual images of him. Two hours seems like not enough time to tell the account of Stronger's legless subject. Heck, Stronger the movie is "light" as a feather.

In retrospect, I think there's an outside chance that Gyllenhaal and Maslany will get nominations at the Academy Awards (for Best Actor and Best Actress respectively). However, Stronger did come out in the month of September so that may hurt said chance.

Image result for stronger 2017 movie scenesIn conclusion, I will always feel sad for the victims pertaining to what went down horrifically on April 15, 2013. But to be blunt, I think I'm gonna take a break from seeing films with a Boston-like setting. The accents, the Boston Red Sox baseball team, the pretentiousness of the city displayed on screen. It's all starting to get a little annoying. That's the "wicked" verity. Rating: 2 stars.

Written by Jesse Burleson

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