Patriots Day Is 'Thoughtful' Yet 'Unnecessary'

It 'gets the job done' for the most part
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 13, 2017 8:16 AM CST

Less than four years after the real-life event, director Peter Berg has brought us Hollywood's version of the Boston Marathon bombing with Patriots Day, centering on a fictional Boston police sergeant (Mark Wahlberg) whose experiences are based on the real ones of several people. Here's what critics are saying:

  • The film can't evoke the same kind of stirring emotion as the real-life footage shown at the end, but it's still "kinetic, well cast, and technically impressive," writes Sheri Linden at the Hollywood Reporter. The "restless camerawork expertly evokes the unspeakable panic and confusion" while "Berg recreates the marathon explosions themselves with full-frontal pandemonium." In other words, it "gets the job done."
  • It's an "absorbing and detail-rich account" that "sticks close to the facts" for the most part and includes scenes that are "appropriately frightening and disorienting," writes Chris Klimek at NPR. "While it's natural to be suspicious of these kinds of feel-good homilies," Berg delivers "a more thoughtful and restrained film than you might've been expecting."

  • But Ty Burr offers a Bostonian's perspective, noting Patriots Day is "telling us what we've seen with our own eyes," only this version is "reshaped for maximum dramatic impact and sold back to us with famous names attached," he writes at the Boston Globe. Sure, "everyone involved with this movie believes they're acting with respect, even when they’re not." But "at best, it's unnecessary. At worst, it's vaguely insulting."
  • Calvin Wilson couldn't disagree more. "Far from being exploitative, Patriots Day honors the Bostonians who responded to terrorism with strength," he writes at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. It's "a fast-moving drama with impressive attention to detail" and a "fine ensemble cast" including Melissa Benoist, who's "a revelation" as Tamerlan Tsarnaev's wife.
(More movie review stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.