Hope & Courage Ensure “Patriot’s Day” Has Universal Appeal

A sobering tale of real life heroism and a city that choose hope over fear and hate, Peter Berg’s Patriot’s Day is technically accomplished and, despite re-opening wounds, presents defiance and courage in the face of terror.

Peter Berg’s Patriot’s Day retells the tragic events of the Boston marathon bombing of 2013. Following several characters including the bombers themselves, the film dramatises four days from the attack itself to the revelation and pursuit of the bombers to the capture of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev following the death of his brother, and fellow culprit, Tamerlan Tsarnaev.

It’s an unsurprisingly sobering action-thriller from a director who likes his stories of real life American heroism (Lone Survivor about a group of doomed US soldiers in Afghanistan was his 2013 effort). Berg’s approach perhaps works better here despite the urban stage and police procedural plotting being less well-suited to his visceral sensibilities and kinetic visual style.

But the director’s aesthetic quirks – and it should be said, his strengths – are evident in some of the film’s finest moments (the street shootout between Boston police and the fleeing bombers springs to mind) while he pleasingly keeps any flag-waving in check (despite allusions to the contrary courtesy of the film’s title), rightly concentrating on the prevailing message of the tragedy’s survivors – that being hope.

Indeed, by celebrating the bravery of those first responders and the reactions of ordinary people, both indirectly and directly affected by the terrorist attack, Patriot’s Day takes on a universally appealing quality defined by the good in people, not the hatred.

A box office failure, Berg’s real life dramatisation of this terrorist atrocity is perhaps too fresh in the memory to earn the Hollywood treatment. In fact, the event and its aftermath was so well publicised in the media, news cameras filming Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s capture from all angles, it feels like we’ve already seen this story played out. Do we actually want to put ourselves through this again?

But Berg is intelligent enough to understand the heart of this story comes from the human spirit and that’s what distinguishes Patriot’s Day. This story needs very little creative stylisation. Its depiction of courage, of love, of hope, of undiminishing togetherness in the face of the monsters that rise from the gutter attempting to destroy those attributes of human goodness is the film’s defining quality. And it is this that makes it well-worth seeing.

patriot's day, film review, four stars

Written by Dan Stephens

Directed by: Peter Berg
Written by: Peter Berg, Matt Cook, Joshua Zetumer
Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Kevin Bacon, John Goodman, J. K. Simmons, Michelle Monaghan

Released: 2016 / Genre: Action-Thriller
Country: USA / IMDB
More reviews: Latest | Archive

Top 10 Films reviewed Patriot’s Day on Blu-ray courtesy of Lionsgate UK. The film is released on DVD & Blu-ray on June 26, 2017.

Dan Stephens
About the Author
Dan Stephens is the founder and editor of Top 10 Films. He's usually pondering his next list, often inspired by his adoration for 1980s Hollywood, a time-travelling DeLorean and an adventurous archaeologist going by the name Indiana.

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  1. Callum Reply

    I thought it was brilliant. Berg’s best.

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