So I just got home from seeing Patriots Day, and it was pretty fantastic.
I remember when the Boston Marathon bombing happened. I was in my sophomore year of high school. I was hanging out in the band room at lunch. I pulled out my phone to check my Facebook, and it was full of articles about this bombing at the Boston Marathon that killed three people and injured plenty more. I didn’t have time to be particularly affected, as I was just starting another week of school, but I did breathe a sigh of relief as the perpetrators of the bombing, a pair of Muslim jihadists from Chechnya named Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, were taken down. Tamerlan was killed in a shootout with the police, and Dzhokhar was hunted down and arrested a while later. I heard about the nationwide mourning. I heard of the nationwide bonding and newfound brotherhood. I wasn’t able to be as affected by this as I should have, as I had a crapton of schooling and homework to do. I’m sorry that I didn’t get as emotionally affected by the real-life events as I would have liked. But this movie belatedly reintroduced me to what happened, and I was able to feel the emotional attachment. Thank you, Patriots Day, for doing that. And thank you, the American judicial system, for sentencing Dzhokhar Tsarnaev to death for his heinous crimes. That bastard absolutely deserves it.
Obviously, the Boston Marathon bombing is a very touchy subject, but just like the incredible Deepwater Horizon, Peter Berg handles it in such a masterful way. It’s very much in-your-face and down-to-earth, and you feel like you’re right there in the moment as the events are happening, but best of all, it never feels exploitative. When I first heard it was coming out, I was initially hesitant to see it, as I thought it was going to go super-progressive and be all hashtag not all Muslims. But when I actually saw it, I was surprised at just how apolitical it was. It wasn’t bashing the American people for being too quick to judge, but it displayed no views on Islam as a whole save for one mention that the Tsarnaev brothers besmirched the name of Mohammed. Good for it.
As I was watching this movie, I found myself really impressed by just how unique each character’s point of view was, from Mark Wahlberg to John Goodman to Kevin Bacon to JK Simmons to the actors playing the Tsarnaev brothers to even the other little-known actors I had never seen before. They all feel not only unique, but serve as puzzle pieces in this grand spectacle. The acting is phenomenal from even the no-namers. They all feel so real. They’re all just normal people that had their lives dramatically changed by the Boston Marathon bombings. While various scenes focused on various characters felt superficial and superfluous because some of these characters felt like they had no point, seeing how they all came together becomes all the more powerful. It’s emotional to see this twentysomething husband and wife be right there as the bombs go off, both lose one or both legs, be separated as the first responders arrive and taken to different hospitals, and eventually reunite. It’s sad to see this father (who also loses a leg) be separated from his son until much later. It’s especially sad to see this young security guard set up a date with a really cute Asian college student only to be killed by the Tsarnaev brothers. It’s legitimately intense to see the other Asian guy who was kidnapped by the Tsarnaev brothers, escaped, and informed the police, leading to the showdown that killed Tamerlan. It is so important to showcase the everyday American citizens who were actually there. These characters are so good, they transcend being characters and instead feel oh so real. It’s probably because they actually were. The emotional attachment is so there. While it’s not as if your tears are being suctioned out, you do feel that knot in your throat and the welling up of tears in your eyes. But the tears never spill over, as much as they threaten to. That’s how well Patriots Day emotionally affects you. It’s pathos at its finest.
I love the sequence leading up to the bombing itself. I love how the joviality of the citizenry is contrasted with the sinking feeling of knowing what’s coming. As the marathon runners race toward the finish line, the movie edits in security footage of the Tsarnaev brothers blending into the crowd and placing their bombs. And though we know that the bombs are going to explode any second, the moment they do still catches us off guard.
When films like this are made, you have to get down into the details and the grittiness of what is happening. And that’s what we see. We see blood. We see mangled limbs. It’s particularly disturbing seeing a dramatic shot of a handful of BB pellets fused together lying in a pool of blood.
And after the bombing itself, the movie focuses much more on the Tsarnaev brothers than it did pre-bombing. While just how evil they are is not shoved in your face, you very much feel the “these are very bad men” vibe. I love the dynamics between Tamerlan and Dzhokhar. Though they see each other as brothers and Dzhokhar sees Tamerlan as an example to follow, it’s very clear that these two lack any sense of morals. For example, the relationship they share is clearly very unhealthy. I even like Tamerlan’s wife. Though she seems like a legitimately nice lady, she turns into a horrible woman when interrogated about her husband and brother-in-law. She has been a willing accomplice and refuses to betray them. By the way, that’s Supergirl as Tamerlan’s wife. That’s quite a character change. As the authorities desperately try to find them before they strike again, and the Tsarnaev brothers attempt to get to New York to bomb Times Square, the movie becomes incredibly tense. The sense of fear is very much there.
Okay, I thought up some sort of spiel while I was driving home, and this very much ties into the movie. The American people deal with their own individual social, economic, political, and religious squabbles daily. But when a crisis occurs, such as the Boston Marathon bombing, we come together like no other nation does. We have such a sense of national pride. We don’t just have pride in our nation and her ideals as a symbol and an idea in and of itself. We have pride in the people that strive to live up to America’s ideals every day. Whenever crisis strikes, be it Pearl Harbor or 9/11, the American people unite in such a strong feeling of brotherhood that I have yet to see any other nation rival. Every American has his or her differences, but when the chips are down, all differences vanish. There are no Republicans or Democrats. There are no rich or poor. There are no black or white people. There are no Christians, Jews, atheists, etc. We are all Americans, and we will stand together as one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. America is undeniably the greatest country in the world, and will irrevocably be the greatest in all of history. There has never been such a nation, and there will never be any like it, and I could not be prouder to be an American citizen. This is my country, land of my birth. This is my country, grandest on earth. This is my country, land of my choice. This is my country, hear my proud voice. I pledge thee my allegiance, America the bold. For this is my country, to have and to hold. And though all hell will strive to destroy what we are and what we stand for, so long as this sense of pride and unity remains, this nation will not perish from the earth. God bless America.
Oh, and Patriots Day gets a 5 out of 5.