“The clock is ticking, the world is watching.”
Before watching this account of the Boston bombings seemed too soon. The events on April 15th 2013 led to the death of five people (three in the bombings and two in the aftermath) and the hundreds being injured. After watching, however, the immediacy of the film seems altogether and wholeheartedly necessary. The film – which focuses on the few hours before, the minutes during and the 100+ hours afterwards – does not glamourise any aspect of the terrible events. This film is not made to titillate and scandalise. It’s a film that wants to show the truth, doing so in a way that is truly thrilling and engrossing.
The film pacily shows multiple perspectives – the cops on duty at the marathon, the members of the public there to cheer the runners on and the two terrorists who changed the lives of hundreds of people. Wahlberg plays our protagonist, Sergeant Tommy Saunders, playing him as an immensely likeable Bostonian Everyman – it’s a real shame that the decision was made for him to be a composite character as opposed to a real figure, it does take away a degree of the potency of his character. However his role is to link various events together and bring various people together which he does well.
The sequence involving the detonation of the bombs is hauntingly shot, replicating for the viewer the visceral confusion that those there would have felt. The proceding hunt for the terrorists is up there with some of the most thrilling cinematic sequences we will see this year. The cinematography and direction allows the film to bypass what could be the film’s biggest problem- that the audience knows what is going to happen. Somehow knowing that doesn’t matter. It doesn’t make you less fearful for the characters or worried that the Tsarnaev brothers will get away with it. It’s refreshing to watch a film that shows the police force being good at their job, of seeing the procedure that follows such awful incidents and how they go about solving it all. This film puts faces to the names of the people involved, turning the numbers and statistics into real people, giving them lives, loves and loss.
Crucially what stops this film being an exploitative effort is that this is a film that is first and foremost about people not terrorism- it’s about Boston coming together and the heroism that even the most ‘normal’ of people are capable of. The films that most stick with you are those that feature the people who put the ordinary into extraordinary, when communities stick together in their darkest of moments and when hope conquers fear. This is one of those films.
Captivating, immensely moving and unflinching.
‘Patriots Day’ opened in UK cinemas on 17th February.
Year: 2017 Runtime:133 minutes Dir: Peter Berg