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‘Patriot’s Day’ (review)

Produced by Scott Stuber, Dylan Clark,
Mark Wahlberg, Stephen Levinson,
Hutch Parker, Dorothy Aufiero,
Stephen Stapinski, Michael Radutzky

Screenplay by Peter Berg,
Matt Cook, Joshua Zetumer

Story by Peter Berg, Matt Cook,
Paul Tamasy, Eric Johnson

Directed by Peter Berg
Starring Mark Wahlberg, Kevin Bacon,
John Goodman, J. K. Simmons,
Michelle Monaghan

April 15, 2013 is a day that will live in infamy for Bostonians and runners the world over.

On this day, three people lost their lives and 264 others were injured at the finish line of the world’s oldest marathon.

Days later, an MIT police officer by the name of Sean A. Collier was shot and killed in the line of duty as the bombers tried to steal his gun. Nearly a year later, Dennis Simmonds, a Boston Police Department officer died of complications from an ensuing firefight with the terrorists.

These cowardly acts continue to have an affect on the Boston community, and on the other side of it, the chant of “Boston Strong” made it to the lexicon as a symbol of resilience, strength, pride and inspiration in the face of adversity.

Director Peter Berg’s Patriot’s Day captures the city’s reaction to the bombing that spurred an unprecedented ‘shelter-in-place’ declaration as the murderers made more sinister plans and plotted their way to New York City for more destruction.

Spliced in with real surveillance footage from the blast site on Boylston Street and other sources such as ATM cameras, Whole Food’s Market and the gas stations after the carjacking, the film does an amazing job with storytelling. Local CBS affiliate WBZ’s broadcasts were also used to great effect. For those not living in Boston at the time, or for those that still cannot grasp the timeline of what happened that day, Patriot’s Day fills in the gaps.

Starring Mark Wahlberg as Boston Police Officer and homicide detective Sgt. Tommy Saunders with supporting roles from Hollywood’s A-List (who, to no fault of their own can’t control their Boston accents for a Large Extra-Extra regular from Dunks) including J. K. Simmons as Sergeant Jeffrey Pugliese, John Goodman as Commissioner Ed Davis and Kevin Bacon as Longmeadow, Massachusetts native Richard DesLauriers, the Special Agent in Charge for the FBI. An underused Michelle Monaghan plays Wahberg’s wife Carol Saunders.

New talent of note in the movie is Jake Picking’s depiction of MIT Officer Collier, Alex Wolff as Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and an unexpected appearance of Melissa Benoist  as Katherine Russell, the older Tsarnaev brother’s wife. Elijah Guo plays UMASS Dartmouth student Dias Kadyrbayev.

As a person who was sheltered-in-place only 2.5 miles away from where Dzhokhar was captured inside of a boat in Watertown, and was working less than two miles away from the bomb blasts, these days are still very real to me.

In a way that could sound like a backhanded compliment (it isn’t), I couldn’t wait for this movie to be over.

Watching the movie, I felt every emotion and relived those days. I experienced deep sadness, fear and all the way to elation when the suspect was captured. I’m filled with pride when I see and hear of the real-life accomplishments of the survivors Jessica Kensky (Rachel Brosnahan) and Patrick Downes (Christopher O’Shea).

I hope that people across the world are empathetic toward what happened in my beloved city and can be inspired similarly. This movie was sometimes tough for me to watch because of the great acting and story based on true events.

Sure, here were famous actors playing the roles of Boston’s Finest to the best of their ability, but Patriots Day truly had me lost in it. This is a dramatization, but with the documentary footage I was put right back to those days in April of 2013, trying to download police scanner apps on my phone and streaming news online. I was in Cambridge the night Officer Collier was slain, picking up an order at FedEx. On our way home, barreling towards Cambridge in opposite lane were patrol cars speeding faster than I’ve ever seen a cop car move, even on the highway, responding to the call. Everything was so surreal.

Jimmy O’Yang (Silicon Valley) portrays one of the most sympathetic characters and true heroes of the film, Dun Meng. Dun bravely escaped his carjacked SUV and urged the gas station clerk to call 911.

There were some tensions between the interdepartmental law enforcement agencies that were later criticized, but Patriots Day reveals some information not known to the public at the time of the investigation, such as a command center called Black Falcon Terminal by the Seaport District. Bacon commands his investigative team, recreating the blast with real evidence as his team steadfastly analyzed every bit of video, cell phone info and eventually identifies the suspects. A scene where Russell (Benoist) is interrogated by unidentified agents is terrifying.

Patriot’s Day achieves what it sets out to do. Bostonians may complain about the accents (they always do) but they cannot deny this tribute to those that died, that sacrificed limbs, and a city that won’t let you mess with them on a day of celebration and accomplishment.

I felt and relived every emotion from laughter to pain with Patriots Day, every Masshole minute the thing. The small talk at Dunkin Donuts contrasted with learning about the real life Kensky and Downes and other survivors in HBO’s Marathon: The Patriots Day Bombing documentary. This film is a reflection of home in 2013 and how we live today with bomb sniffing dogs at sporting events feeling safer and proud of the tough jobs our first responders face.

The Patriot’s Day charity fund picks up where the 2013 One Fund left off to benefit the first responders, medical professionals and survivors of the 2013 Marathon bombing.

Be Boston Strong by giving this film a chance, and for the majority of you out there, you will get a glimpse into what it feels like to live in “Our fucking city”. Thanks, Big Papi, for that everlasting quote!

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