Given recent terror attacks in London and Manchester Patriots Day’s home release could not have come at a worst time. That is far from being a damning indictment of the film, if anything it is quite the opposite. Because Patriots Day tells the story of the Boston Marathon bombings and in light the UK’s current resilience to such things it is a film that offers a little too much harrowing reality.
It is no coincidence that after the horrific events of 9/11 one of the most rented movies was Michael Bay’s Armageddon. While that film featured images of destruction in the streets of New York it was all in the name of science fiction entertainment. Patriots Day is not, repeat that, NOT, entertainment.
Charting the events and subsequent investigation and results of the events in Boston on 15th April 2013 Patriots Day is often a gut-wrenching watch. Director Peter Berg, always at his strategic best when dealing with more reality based material such as Lone Survivor and Deepwater Horizon rather than his Michael Bay like output of Battleship and Hancock, knows how to rack up the tension.
The opening third of Patriots Day is an exercise in perfect build-up. We know the horror is coming, we know we’re getting ever closer and Berg uses a variety of formats and cuts between multiple characters to give you a window into how a perfect day in any city can turn into an utter nightmare. And when that nightmare unfolds is when Patriots Day is at its best but also, and crucially, hard to stomach at this particular juncture in history. If you have been in anyway shape or form affected by the recent terror attacks, please, stay clear of this film. Such is the visceral nature of the film it may prove too much to stomach.
Survive that first third and Patriots Day never lets up but does spur you on. Boston is a proud city, a tough city, full of patriotic and proud people. Watching the various characters rally together to track down, apprehend and bring to justice the extremists responsible is inspiring. Yes, there is artistic license but it doesn’t change the fact that there were monsters out there and knights in black and white shining cars who did their duty to make their city, their country and all those who oppose terrorism proud.
And therein lies the brilliance of Patriots Day. That while it vividly depicts events that will have you quaking with fear and anger, it then inspires you, puts to shame all those who would kill innocent people in the name of terror. Rarely does a film make you cry with sorrow, anger and then sheer pride at the strength of the human spirit to rise up against the few, to come together, to make you proud.
A blistering, emotional account of a dark day turned into a moment to stand tall, Patriots Day is often hard watching but one hell of an inspiring story.