The Boston Marathon Bombing was an atrocity this city will never forget. Almost four years ago, evil struck the city, taking lives and inflicting life-altering injuries to civilians. Although the aim of this act was to tear people apart, it had the opposite effect and brought people together. Patriots Day takes the audience through that day and the days that followed to the capture of Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, leaving the audience both stunned and moved. Featuring Mark Wahlberg, John Goodman, Kevin Bacon, and J.K. Simmons, Patriots Day paints a vivid portrait of the events of the 2013 Boston Marathon Bombing.
The scenes of the bombings and the aftermath were staggering. Sergeant Tommy Saunders (Mark Wahlberg), a fictionalized amalgamation of several real people, did not shy away from the graphic events that occurred. While it was disturbing and upsetting, the movie wouldn’t have done its job if it had only shown the recovery. It was important to highlight the brutality of this act of terror.
Narratively, the film explained in more detail how the police went about solving the crime. This included looking to camera footage from the stores around the bombing site and setting up a carbon copy of the crime scene in what appeared to be an empty warehouse. Each detail was crucial in the investigation. It gave credit to those who worked tirelessly to catch the criminals responsible, as well as delved into who was knowledgeable to or complicit in the act.
One of the people believed to be a suspect was Katherine Russell, Tamerlan’s wife (Melissa Benoist). The police believed she had been in on the plot. The film suggests this as factual through the interactions on screen between the family, despite real world findings. The movie even dramatizes the interrogation of Russell. She is certainly portrayed as a villainous character, knowing more than she let on.
Patriots Day also held others that might not immediately come to mind at fault to some extent. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s classmates at UMass Dartmouth are especially put in a critical light. After seeing the alleged bomber on television, one of the classmates messaged him to see if it was Tsarnaev on the news. The classmate received a cryptic message response and a series of emojis that should have caused suspicion. Later on, his classmates find the makings of a bomb in a backpack in a closet, but again fail to go to the police with these revelations.
At times it felt like a dark story, too horrible to be true. Actual camera footage from the day of the bombing brought a stark feeling of reality to the film. These bits of footage included marathon runners along the course, the bombers placing the bombs, one of the bombers going out to get milk from the store, and the capture of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.
Perhaps the most moving feature of the film was how it went about introducing characters. The audience was brought into a few the lives of those impacted by the blasts. A young couple, Jessica Kensky (Rachel Brosnahan) and Patrick Downes (Christopher O’Shea), teased each other in their kitchen the night before attending the marathon. Sean Collier (Jake Picking) is shown playing video games with his friends and asking an MIT student to a Zac Brown Band concert that weekend. All these scenes solidify these characters, these real people, more fully and make their tragedy all the more harrowing.
The unthinkable events of April 15, 2013 illuminated the strength of the people of Boston. The phrase “Boston Strong” serves as a mantra for the city. It represents a mentality and a spirit, powered by love and strength of great people. The film was dedicated to the first responders, medical personnel, and law enforcement. We have these people to thank for their courageous acts. In the words of Wahlberg’s character, “What I saw today, good versus evil, love versus hate, there’s only one weapon you have to fight back with. It’s love.”
Patriots Day paid homage to all those who fought back after the attack and illustrated the strength and resilience of the people of Boston. In an emotional closing Deval Patrick (Michael Beach), Kensky, and Downes, members of the Boston Police, and others involved on that day to discuss the lasting impact of this tragedy. One police officer remarked after the capture of Tsarnaev that it was the first time he had had seen people lining the streets and applauding the police. At the closing, as the credits rolled, the audience clapped out of respect and appreciation.
Featured Image By Lionsgate Films