Welcome to A-Ron’s movie review flashback. Before I started writing reviews for Maui Watch, I used to write reviews just for fun on Facebook. They weren’t as evolved as they are now but they were still pretty good. Recently I’ve been getting reminders on Facebook’s past memories, about old movie reviews I’ve written. I figure my gig as movie critic on Maui Watch is a good place to share my old reviews in a new segment I call:
A-Ron’s Movie Review Flashback.
Here is my January 14, 2017 review I had written on director Peter Berg and star Mark Wahlberg’s “Patriots Day”. Film originally released on January 13th, 2017.
It can be a tricky and dangerous thing, making a big screen mass entertainment out of a recent tragedy, especially when there are only a few years between a horrific event. Especially an event that took lives and affected people forever both physically and mentally. To focus on an event that struck at the heart of America and to release it as a commercial motion picture.
Few filmmakers maybe even more close to none are as brave to take on such subject matter. Or are as respectful of the gravity of these seminal moments toward the real-life heroes and victims and survivors of these events, as is actor/director Peter Berg. With “Lone Survivor” and “Deepwater Horizon” and now “Patriots Day”. Berg has become a specialist in telling these stories through the lens of a big-budget action film but he never comes across as anything as exploitative or disrespectful.
All three films star and are produced by Mark Wahlberg. It’s obvious at this point that Berg and Whalberg are a magic pair. In “Patriots Day,” Wahlberg plays Tommy Saunders the one main character in the whole film who is not based on a real-life figure. Instead, he’s a composite of different Boston police officers who worked on April 15, 2013, the day of the bombing. Berg had to do this so we could follow one individual throughout the story instead of jumping back and forth through the different characters and making a jumbled mess.
This is Whalberg at his best. Even though he is a fictional character. Whalberg doesn’t portray him that way. I thought up to the point of finding out he was fictional that he was a real person. That’s how convincing and believable he is.
Director Berg and the team of writers do a fine job of introducing Tommy and a half-dozen other major characters in the hours before the Boston Marathon. The casting is perfect from John Goodman, J.K. Simmons, and Kevin Bacon. They are as superb as they’ve always been.
As great as those talents are and as stellar as they are. Arguably the most challenging roles in this film aren’t the heroes, but the killers. Themo Melikidze plays Tamerlan Tsarnaev and Alex Wolff plays his younger brother Dzhokhar, the brothers who carried out the terrorist bombings and later murdered an MIT police officer. These two young actors play cowardly, warped sociopaths. Their work is excellent. It’s a daring role to play and a brave choice to take on these animals.
The camerawork and the editing on “Patriots Day” are magnificent. For alot of hand held camera work. It’s surprisingly not as frantic as most hand held work is. It’s a making for a more dramatically effective and emotionally involving film. We spend just the right amount of time with every storyline, from the unfolding investigation, or human interest subplots about the brave carjacking victim, the young couple who were both maimed in the attacks, or the MIT officer.
And with a running time of 2 hours, 13 minutes Berg keeps the film tightly paced and packed. After viewing the film I went back and read up on the reports and what happened from the initial start of the marathon to the final capture. Director Berg nailed every action and motion that happened throughout the investigation and manhunt. He even stages a gun and bomb battle between the Watertown Police and the terrorists. It is one of the most superbly done and choreographed shootouts I’ve ever seen. Just be warned Berg holds nothing back in its scenes of violence. It’s very heavy.
Following the tradition of his last two real life films. Berg inserts throughout the film real footage and the real individuals involved in scenes throughout the film. Berg also ends the movie with a tribute featuring real life footage, photos and interviews with the victims and law enforcement involved. If u don’t feel your heart sinking or don’t start tearing up then you need to get your heart checked.
This has been a terrific year for director Peter Berg. Just a few months ago, his DEEPWATER HORIZON blew audiences away with high critical praise. Now Patriots Day is getting even higher regards and is on so many critics Top 10 Films Of The Year. This is being hailed as Berg’s best film. It deserves to be. It’s superb filmmaking.
GRADE: ★★★★★ (5 out of 5)