Directed by Peter Berg, written by Matt Cook and Peter Berg, and starring Mark Wahlberg, Michelle Monaghan, J.K. Simmons, and Kevin Bacon, Patriots Day follows a police officer involved in the investigation in the days following the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013.
Patriots Day is one of the best nonfiction films I’ve seen in a long time. Simply put, that’s what I think. That’s my review. Here’s why:
This film starts as well as it can: slowly introducing the characters that will be most relevant throughout the story. Everyone is content as can be as they prep for Patriots’ Day- an annual celebration in Boston featuring the Boston Marathon. Of course anyone going to see this movie knows what happens next. There’s not much to be said for the plot- it is what it is. The execution is naturally what matters in a film like this. What can be said about the events of that day in 2013? This film expresses exactly what people need to know.
The story is told as it happened, in order from the day before the marathon to the days after until the terrorists responsible were found. The focus is mostly on the cops and officials working on the investigation. However, the film also follows the portrayal of a few families that fell victim to the bombing along with the investigation, reminding the audience how real this was and how fiercely it affected one of the proudest cities in the country. This is the most striking element added to the story, a reminder of how many people were affected. Another element worth noting is how focus is placed on how much the people of Boston helped in the investigation- working with police to make sure they had more than enough information. This adds a more realistic sense to an otherwise (not too heavily, but still- it’s a movie) dramatic recreation, as audiences may remember this particular element being reported on often during the investigation.
Of course it’s an emotional film- any decent audience will feel how tragic the events of that day were for Boston. It’s also a touching memorial to those who were injured and to those who were killed. The interview with bombing victims at the end of the film is probably one of the most appropriate ways to end a nonfiction film such as this. It serves as a reminder that even though the events told through film are a dramatic retelling, it is a very real and very recent memory for so many. It’s a story that needs to be remembered, and this film feels like an effective execution of that purpose.
An account of the Boston Bombing of 2013, and the investigation that followed.