Peter Berg feeds into America’s narcissism and heroism with his take on the Boston Marathon
If there was a sense of deja-vu when you saw the trailer for Patriots Day, it’s because that Peter Berg and Mark Wahlberg have already done a similar movie not long ago dealing with the Deepwater Horizon tragedy. Coming back with his second tragedy action movie, Peter Berg stuffs as many American symbols as he can and paints a glossy over the top picture of American heroism ultimately leading the movie to fall flat.
Patriots Day deals with the 2013 bombings of the Boston Marathon following Tommy Saunders (Mark Wahlberg) during and after the tragedy. Leading the investigation is FBI Special Agent Richard DesLauriers (Kevin Bacon) who tries to catch the two suspects Tamerlan (Themo Melikidze) and Jahar (Alex Wolff).
If you are unfamiliar with all the little details of the Boston Marathon bombings then Patriots Day will surprise you in areas. When it plays like a serious suspenseful thriller, it works well. Scenes involving the suspects have a sense of dread and uncertainty that creates powerful nail-biting instances. Lead by gorgeous cinematography, much of the explosions are shot beautifully knowing exactly when to use slow motion capture work.
However, Patriots Day also has an undeniable exploitive factor associated with it. Re-creating victims’s stories was very manipulative and only there to force the viewers to cry along. The characters are just quickly glossed over and feel forced into a movie that doesn’t really care about them. The bombing scenes are also a good example of exploitation. Unraveling like an unrealistic action thriller, the film plays up the elements of gore and thrills for movie purposes. The shots used during those scenes are obnoxiously close shouting “look at the cool prosthetics.”
The biggest problem surrounding Patriots Day is the lingering narcissism and extreme heroism associated with these events. It uses American symbolism to such tiring effect that the movie becomes a parody at times. In addition, the movie’s awkward humor and action movie tropes don’t help. Much of it is so clumsy and irresponsible that it dilutes the tragedy the movie tries to showcase. Essentially, Patriots Day does a better job at feeding American’s narcissistic nature then it does portraying a terrible tragedy.
Oh, and of course, no American hero movie would be finished without the rash depiction of Muslims. Failing to draw a line between extremism and traditionalism further adds to the movie’s parodying of the Boston Marathon bombings.
Peter Berg’s attempt at tugging your heart strings desperately falls flat, and a lot of it is because of the tonal inconsistencies resulting in the movie’s inevitable parody of itself. Victims are seen to be hugging and kissing, but instead of feeling pity, the movie establishes, once again, a notion of patriotism. At this point, I grew tired of Berg shoving American patriotism down my throat that these moments were just annoying.
Having a balance between celebrating one’s self and paying respect to an awful event is what Patriots Day ultimately gets wrong. It’s constant pad on the back is both annoying and disrespectful making it the perfect movie in Trump’s America.
Patriots Day is released on January 13.