Review / ‘Patriots Day’ (M) *** and a half

DIRECTOR and writer Peter Berg’s mockumentary retelling the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing had to get it right or face justified mockery. 

Where it’s not using archival footage made on the day, “Patriots Day” replicates it right enough for we who weren’t there to sense its determination to deliver verity in those moments that weren’t recorded in real time.

Providing the film’s narrative backbone, Mark Wahlberg plays Boston PD sergeant Tommy Saunders, awaiting transfer to the detective division. Tommy’s been ordered to take a day off to nurse a crook knee. Events are no respecters of such trifles. On April 15, 2013, he’s in charge of crowd control at the finish line.

Scripting of the Tsarnaev brothers Dzhokhar (Alex Wolff) and Tamerlan (Themo Melikidze) is probably improvised but the general trend of their behaviour on and after the bombing is probably not far from authentic.

Dzhokhar died in what the film presents as a demolition derby involving police and civilian vehicles and a lot of gunfire. Tamerlan awaits execution after his appeals grind their slow way though the justice system.

The film’s subject provides an easy platform for flag-waving hubris into which the film itself gets its feet a little wet but wisely and fortunately does not sink (I make no apology for that mixing of metaphors!)

While it’s fair to say that “Patriots Day” is restrained about Islam in the four days between the bombing and Tamerlan’s capture, the roll of remembrance just before the long closing credits does have a capacity to generate sentiments beyond pity for the families of the three dead and the permanently disabled survivors.

At all cinemas


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