It’s been less than four years since the Boston Marathon Bombings and I went into “Patriot’s Day” wondering what the film, made so soon after the saturation news coverage, hoped to achieve. Director Peter Berg, of course, is no stranger when it comes to adapting true life events and, after an awkward opening, he manages to deliver once again in retelling the events and aftermath of April 15th, 2013.
The opening twenty minutes or so of “Patriot’s Day” find themselves mired in disaster movie cliché as the various groups of characters are introduced going about their daily lives, oblivious to the impending doom which hangs over them. Once the attack takes place, however, the film grips you and doesn’t let go throughout. The ensemble cast bring their real life characters to life and the film does a superb job of illuminating the nail-biting tension and drama of the city-wide manhunt to catch the bombers before they could flee or strike again.
The only aspect of the film which doesn’t work is producer/ star Mark Walbergh’s improbably omnipresent Sergeant Tommy Saunders whose unnecessary back story weighs down the opening of the film and then distorts the rest of the narrative by seemingly being present – if not instrumental – in nearly every stage of the investigation and subsequent manhunt.
It’s a minor grumble though and despite my misgivings, I found it to be a gripping, edge-of-the-seat thriller, all the more astonishing for the true events it depicts.