J.K. Simmons in "Patriots Day." (CBS Films)
SHOOT. J.K. Simmons in “Patriots Day.” photo/CBS Films

Based on the emotional events of the Boston Marathon bombing, Patriots Day gives insight into the perspectives of those closest to the blast. Although somewhat fictionalized, the story of Patriots Day allows viewers to relate to real people whose lives the bombing effected.

Four years ago, two bombs exploded at the finish line of the Boston Marathon on April 15, 2013. They killed three spectators and wounded a total of 260 spectators and runners. After a four-day manhunt, the police captured bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, whose brother and partner in crime, Tamerlan Tsarnaev was killed earlier that day in a shootout with the police. As with any movie based on real events, factual accuracy concerned the public, especially those affect, as it waited for the film’s release.

However, most details were factually correct. The film featured acted scenes and real footage of victims, such as couple Patrick Downes (Christopher O’Shea) and Jessica Kensky (Rachel Brosnahan), MIT police officer Sean Collier (Jake Picking), father and son Steve (Dustin Tucker) and Leo (Lucas Thor Kelley) Woolfenden, and Chinese immigrant Dun Meng (Jimmy O. Yang). Despite not mentioning every victim, the film’s focus on a set few allowed viewers to get a better feel for the ones featured. In this way, Director Peter Berg forces the audience to fully wrap their minds around the damage, particularly the emotional damage, the bombing caused. He wants the audience to view each of these victims as a person, not just a number on a list.

Now, the director gave the actors the audience’s attention, but keeping hold of it becomes the actors’ job. For a movie based on a real, emotional event, acting suddenly becomes even more pressure-inducing, like in Deepwater Horizon or Hacksaw Ridge. Patriots Day is no exception. Emotion, much more than in fictional movies, proves key.

Those, such as O’Shea, Brosnahan, Tucker and Kelley, portraying victims did phenomenal jobs, beautifully depicting the fear, panic and disorientation of the bombing, and its immediate aftermath. Picking’s portrayal of the heroic police officer’s death draws a collective sadness and sympathy from the audience.

Yang’s character, Meng, served as a more plot-developing role, but the actor made it a point to give Meng the full credit he deserves. Not only did the Tsarnaev brothers hijack his car, but they also took Meng as captive, admitting to him that they were the bombers and were responsible for killing Collier. Yang excellently displayed Meng’s absolute terror in the brothers’ presence. This made his brave escape and immediate effort to notify the police further stand out much more than the scene would have otherwise.

But with so much action and intensity, the movie could almost be written off as “just another movie” if not for the lead character Sgt. Tommy Saunders (Mark Wahlberg). A fictional character, Saunders is, at first glance, just another character dealing with the horror of the bombing. Like any character, he has his own, smaller battles. However, Saunders’ purpose in the film proved more than that. Somehow showing up at just about every major event, Saunders’ role seemed more and more like a metaphor; he was Boston. Every emotion Saunders felt, including the break down at his house with his wife just after the bombing, represented everything the city felt: the disorientation, the fear, the anger. Wahlberg complemented the brilliant idea of such a representation perfectly.

Only the two-dimensional portrayal of Tamerlan (Themo Melikidze) and Dzhokhar (Alex Wolff) Tsarnaev can count much as a hiccup. There is no shame in showing the worst sides of the two obvious antagonists to get the audience rooting against them. But the movie lacked their background story and the complete motive for their actions. Although the director attempted to show some of this within their home as they planned their vicious acts, and in the car conversation with Meng as they attempted to escape, it seems to only show a fraction of their thinking.

Nevertheless, Melikidze and Wolff excellently portrayed their roles as the Tsarnaev brothers. Furthermore, everything the brothers did in the movie accurately reflected the real-life events, even down to Dzhokhar’s strange visit to the grocery store to pick up milk after the bombing.

Overall, the movie definitely induced the emotion expected to come with it, and detailed the terrible event with tremendous accuracy. Anything fictionalized, in fact, had a purpose, usually to better help the audience grasp the full gravity of each situation. Berg and Wahlberg, also the director and leading actor, respectively, of Deepwater Horizon, seem to have a talent for portraying those involved in tragic events.

The HiLights:

Movie: Patriots Day

Starring: Mark Wahlberg, J. K. Simmons, John Goodman, Kevin Bacon, Alex Wolff, Themo Melikidze, Melissa Benoist, Michelle Monaghan

Genre: Drama, History, Thriller

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

By Jessenia Jalca

I'm a senior and the design editor on the newspaper staff. I love God, and I love dogs.

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