Could a movie ever be unanimously considered perfect? Definitely not. There will always be someone who finds something to criticize. Nothing is perfect… but I expected perfection from Patriots Day. I expected Mark Wahlberg to tell the story in a way that would make Bostonian’s proud. I had the highest of expectations and somehow, someway, Patriots Day exceeded them. It was stunningly well executed from top to bottom. Everything was done with an obvious attention to detail and true to the events that took place that day/ week. I can’t praise this movie enough. Wahlberg nailed it.
In the interest of full disclosure I should say I have reasons to be a little bias on this one. I was working in Boston not too far away from the finish line when the bombs went off. Everyone has a story about that day in the city. I’ll spare you mine and just say this story really hits home. It’s because of that I walked into the theater prepared to be extremely critical of everything, but I walked out with only a few very small things to criticize. When I say small, its more nit-picking for the sake of something to talk about than anything else. And again, I can’t praise it enough.
SPOILERS- It’s hard to criticize a movie that is so well done and is based on a real life tragedy like this. I feel almost guilty doing it but I will anyways. I have only three things I found to be odd. The smallest was the scene where the terrorist’s wife is being interrogated. First of all I very much doubt a small group of people could confidently barge into that room unannounced and take over the interrogation without anyone knowing who they actually work for.. That seems like something the FBI would stop and figure out before letting them talk to the one person with a link to the terrorist suspects. In addition to that, the intensity and confidence this mystery crew of interrogators brought into that scene felt cheapened by the quick exit and the ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ attitude they had after only a short discussion with the wife. Oh she’s guilty but they’ll never prove it? Thanks for your quality input.
The second issue is the one hiccup in authenticity in regards to the timeline of events. In reality the guy who owned the boat Tsarnaev was found in didn’t go outside to check things out until after the Shelter in Place order was lifted. I can personally verify this because I sat there watching the news and listened to the police scanner all day and night. The movie had him going out to have a cigarette while the order was still in place. It’s a small detail that nobody will notice and doesn’t truly matter, but I find it weird they decided to do it that way.
The biggest issue I had would have to be the knee brace.. whyyyy was the knee brace a thing?? Mark Wahlberg’s role was the only fictional character in the whole movie. They created him because they needed someone to be involved with every major event in the timeline so they could tell the story properly. Totally understandable and it was well done. But what did that knee injury add to the character? Was it supposed to make us sympathize with him? No need, he had a tough enough week to earn sympathy regardless of a limp. Was it just so his fictional wife would have to bring him a bigger knee brace to the finish line and be there for the blasts even though she didn’t get hurt? There are plenty of other believable ways to get her there without sacrificing the main characters ability to run. Was it some sort of weird and weak attempt to connect the character to the hundreds of leg injuries from the low-level blast? Dear God I hope not because that would be insulting to compare a hyper-extended knee to those who lost legs that day. Or was it way more simple and innocent than that, could it just be that Mark Wahlberg has a shitty knee and needed to wear the brace while filming? That’s a pretty interesting take. A friend of mine came up with that and it’s actually the most believable answer. I can’t find a real answer to this question so I’ll just go with the shitty knee theory.
I could talk all day about the good parts of the movie. Like how it successfully captured the level of panic/concern/anger in the city and the aggressive nature in which the Boston Police and FBI pursued the investigation. I could rave about each actor’s performance, or how touching the ending was while introducing the real life victims. I could tell you I got pretty emotional when they depicted the State Trooper honoring his commitment to not leave 8 year old Martin Richard’s side as he lay dead on the street in a body bag until hours later when an ambulance came to take him away as evidence. That’s too sad to talk about here. What I will talk about is arguably the greatest character in the movie. This guy:
Yes. J.K. Simmons playing Watertown Sergeant Jeffrey Pugliese stole the spotlight. Hard to do on a cast with as much talent as this one. He brought comic relief without trying. He’s that grizzled veteran who is impressed by nothing and can handle anything. Nothing phases him because it’s just a job and he’s going home when its done. The details were perfect. His constant calm attitude during a wild shootout was oddly convincing because of the attention to detail while developing his character. He won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor two years ago for Whiplash and if I had a vote I’d give it to him again. That’s how strong of an impact he had on the story.
This one is an easy rating for me. Entertainment value through the roof. It was an emotional roller coaster that kept me on the edge of my seat. Incredible thing to pull off when everyone knows how the story ends. Critically it was an exceptional job telling an important story. Demerit points for introducing an odd and seemingly useless dynamic with the knee injury. Bonus points for giving the world a new definition for “smoothie” which is truly a gift.
Entertainment rating: 99%
Critic rating: 94%