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'Patriots Day' - Boston Strong

‘Patriots Day’ is the first good Mark Wahlberg film since ‘Boogie Nights’ way back in 1997-in my opinion.  He has been an actor that I have not easily responded to- certainly in the broad comedies that he has largely been featured in such as ‘Ted’, ‘Ted 2’ & ‘Pain & Gain’. But all is now forgiven.

Here, in this largely very faithful recreation of the atrocious 2013 Boston Marathon Bombing, he is centre stage as Boston Police Department Sgt Tommy Saunders. Now Saunders is in a difficult place- having been disciplined by his force and having to work through his problems, this all changes when brothers  Dzhokhar Tsarnaev & Tamerlan Tsarnaev remotely detonate bombs at the finishing line at the Boston Marathon.

The movie, ably directed by Peter Berg, is at his most effective when it is showing the sheer chaos and carnage that takes place in an instant with people searching for loved ones, the scene being dominated with trainers lying there with parts of limbs still in them, and the authorities trying to work what has taken place.

The film is also good in the hunting down of the twin terrorists – mixing documentary and fictional scenes to good effect- Kevin Bacon impresses as the FBI Agent leading the investigation and showing that he is more than just a EE advertising front man. John Goodman does his usual turn- this time as Police Commissioner Ed Davis. There is tremendous support by J K Simmons (‘Juno’ & ‘Whiplash’) as police Sgt Jeffrey Pugliese who plays a central role in capturing the suspects.

Even though most people who followed this real life drama know the ending, it is still engrossing to witness the enfolding drama. The movie does not come up with any real answers to the terrorist conundrum that we face- at one

at one point the Mark Wahlberg character attempts to but can only conclude that the only answer is to love people. The film though is at its best when it chronicles the ‘Boston Strong’ message and how the city came together to help find the terrorists and came together as a strong city –similar to London over ‘7/7’ and of course the Capital’s finest hour –‘The Blitz’.

The film is also very emotional. No more so than at its conclusion where the real life survivors of the bombing have their turn to record what the events meant to them-that it led to positive and not just negative things happening and the reigniting of  how good people respond to evil – and in that sense defeated terrorism.