Plot: What’s it about?
Reuniting for the third time, Patriot’s Day is directed by Peter Berg and stars Mark Wahlberg, among others. As mentioned, this is now the third time these time have worked with each other. The first two films: Lone Survivor and Deepwater Horizon were also based on true events, though all three films have taken many liberties with the facts. I can say that I hope if this duo works together again that they’ll leave the real life tragedies alone and go a different direction. Patriot’s Day has been widely praised by most critics, but I fail to see what’s so great about the film. In fact, I’d go so far to argue if the film should’ve ever been made at all. Whatever the intentions behind the film were, I can’t help but feel it’s more than a little exploitive. While it’s been called honorable by many, I feel it’s more tacky and in poor taste. The film is based on the April 2013 Boston bombing which claimed several lives and left many without limbs.
The film begins as we see Sergeant Tommy Saunders (Mark Wahlberg) on a case. He’s with two other officers, but hurts his knee trying to kick the door down. We learn that he’s been suspended and is told by his supervisor, Ed Davis (John Goodman) that he has one more task before he’ll be back to his regular duties. The task is to patrol the race the following day. That is the Marathon race where we know what will happen next. The film goes out of its way to show the characters all happy and proceeding as if it’s any other day before the race. I feel it paints almost too pretty a picture to provide a contrast to how ugly things got after the bombings. A lot of screen time is given to the brothers Dzhokar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev who detonate the bombs during the race. We then follow the various characters after the bombings and the subsequent manhunt. Kevin Bacon stars as a special agent in the FBI and J.K. Simmons plays another police sergeant.
While I really don’t think a film of this sort should’ve been made, it’s here nonetheless, so I think we have to accept that. With that being said, it did very little for me. I knew the story going in, but that isn’t something that always halts my enjoyment. I think it’s more the subject matter at play. Peter Berg has taken a real life tragedy and given in to various clichés often associated with this genre. Several moments are overdone and exaggerated that they just rang false. I also found myself strangely detached through much of it and bored. I think a lot of this comes from knowing the eventual outcome of the story. I didn’t particularly care for any of the characters either. It isn’t until final moments of the film where we hear from the real life people behind the story that I felt moved at all. We hear from several of the police and victims of the bombings as well. If only the entire film worked the way these final minutes did then it might’ve fared better. Still, I can’t help but feel an actual documentary on the subject would be the way to go and not a Hollywood picture. Patriot’s Day left me cold and unmoved.
Video: How’s it look?
Patriots Day comes to the home video format in an Ultra HD/4K offering and the Blu-ray is included as well. I often feel like I’m repeating myself from time to time when I review the video section, but so be it. The AVC encoded 2.40:1 HEVC image looks great. Details are strong and background shots nicely detailed. We see several gruesome images, but they’re all presented with sharp detail. It’s a new film, so the print showed no issues either. Likewise, the Blu-ray looks nearly as good with just slightly less detail in some of the more “action-oriented” sequences and it does lack the HDR. Still, either way you go, it’ll be a good-looking picture.
Audio: How’s it sound?
The DTS X track is a nice addition here, the next generation format is a competitor to Dolby’s Atmos, and if you’re not equipped, the down sampled DTS HD Master Audio track is also solid. There’s a nice balance to the track and it really involves the listener. The rear channels crept in on several occasions and helped create a realistic atmosphere. Vocals remained fine and clear with no distortion. When the bombs go off, we get plenty of bass and the track kicks into high gear. Like the transfer, this track satisfies.
Supplements: What are the extras?
All of the supplements can be found on the Ultra HD and Blu-ray versions of the disc (hopefully this is becoming the new standard), so no switching to the Blu-ray to view the special features. Good show.
- The Boston Strong: True Stories of Courage – Three people are profiled who had major and minor parts in the events of the bombing.
- Dr. Jeffrey Kalish – Dr. Kalish recounts his story of the day with is wife running in the marathon as well as having his oldest daughter there. He was called into surgery after the events and shares his story.
- Dun Meng – Meng was carjacked by the two brothers responsible for the bombing and this details his escape (with surveillance video) and the resulting actions of his action.
- Sgt. Jeff Pugliese – Sgt. Pugliese of the Watertown Police Department recounts his story of apprehending the brothers, though by his own admission, he had no idea that they were the brothers. We see the bullet holes in the house that he was at and can feel what he did as his story is very vivid. Amazing.
- The Boston Bond: Recounting the Tale – Several members of the cast and crew as well as some of the real-life participants discuss their involvement in the project. Berg and Wahlberg have worked together on three movies that involve real-life incidents, though this one seems to hit closest to home. Running at 20 minutes it’s all-encompassing enough that we get a good sense and feel for the story and inspiration behind the film.
- The Real Patriots: The Local Heroes’ Stories – Berg once again explains his motivation for making the film with some input from Hutch Parker, the film’s producer, as well as some very candid commentary from Ed Davis (John Goodman’s character in the film), the Chief of the Boston Police.
- The Cast Remembers – Some of the cast members recount their personal stories about the event, when and how they heard it and where they were at the time.
- Actors Meet Real-Life Counterparts: A 2-Part Series – As the title suggests, two sets of actors and the people they play sit down and talk about their respective parts in the film and its real-life parallels.
- John Goodman and Ed Davis – Goodman seems to be slouching in his chair, though Davis seems to be the one in charge (as we might expect) as the two dissect their roles and such.
- Jimmy O. Yang and Dun Meng – Meng explains (in subtext as his English still isn’t that great) about his involvement in the event as Yang listens and tells of what attracted him to the role.
- Researching the Day – We get a sense as to the amount of sheer dedication that Berg brought to this project, his meticulous attention to detail and the lack of “Hollywooding” up the film.
The Bottom Line
Despite a lot of praise, Patriot’s Day did little for me. I can’t help but feel as if the film really shouldn’t have been made. With this being the third time Peter Berg and Mark Wahlberg have worked together on a fact-based film, I think they both should get a new angle. The film left me unmoved and mostly bored as it came to conclusion. It isn’t until the closing moments that paid tribute to the real life people involved that I felt anything at all.