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Movie Review

Patriots Day also known as “Dia de Heróis,” “Día de patriotas,” “Unidos Por Boston”

MPAA Rating: R for violence, realistically graphic injury images, language throughout and some drug use.

Reviewed by: Curtis McParland
CONTRIBUTOR

Very Offensive
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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Adults
Genre:
History Thriller Drama
Length:
2 hr. 13 min.
Year of Release:
2016
USA Release:
November 17, 2016 (festival)
December 21, 2016 (limited—NY, LA, Boston—7 theaters)
January 13, 2017 (wide—2,900+ theaters)
DVD: March 28, 2017
Copyright, Lionsgate click photos to ENLARGE Copyright, Lionsgate Copyright, Lionsgate Copyright, Lionsgate Copyright, Lionsgate Copyright, Lionsgate Copyright, Lionsgate Copyright, Lionsgate Copyright, Lionsgate Copyright, Lionsgate
Relevant Issues
Copyright, Lionsgate

acts of terror / terrorists

murder in the Bible

death

courageous survivors

importance of first responders and investigators, and the difficulties they face

Issue of pain and suffering

Why does God allow innocent people to suffer? Answer

What about the issue of suffering? Doesn’t this prove that there is no God and that we are on our own? Answer

Does God feel our pain? Answer

ORIGIN OF BAD—How did bad things come about? Answer

Did God make the world the way it is now? What kind of world would you create? Answer

Featuring: Mark WahlbergSgt. Tommy Saunders
Michelle MonaghanCarol Saunders
J.K. SimmonsSergeant Jeffrey Pugliese
Kevin BaconRichard DesLauriers
John GoodmanCommissioner Ed Davis
Melissa Benoist … Katherine Russell
Rachel Brosnahan … Jessica Kensky
Michael Beach … Gov. Deval Patrick
Alex Wolff … Dzhokhar Tsarnaev
more »
Director: Peter Berg—“Lone Survivor” (2013), “Collateral” (2004), “Battleship” (2012)
Producer: CBS Films
Closest to the Hole Productions
more »
Distributor: Lionsgate

“At 2:49 the first bomb exploded. 102 hours later the bombers were found. Good against evil, love against hate.”

The land of the free. The home of the brave. These sayings are just a couple of ways some may describe the United States of America. And the story of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings strongly speaks truth to these sayings, when thousands of lives changed that year on the 15th of April. The film “Patriots Day” is based on this true event and primarily focuses on a fictional character named Tommy Saunders (Mark Wahlberg), a police sergeant working at the Boston marathon.

Tommy isn’t too thrilled to be working the marathon either. After hurting his knee during a police raid the night before and running on just a few hours of sleep, he can’t wait for the day’s end. Working the Marathon is just another day on job for him. That is, until not one, but two bombs go off right near the finish line. Tommy’s turns into a race against the clock as the Boston police and FBI work together to track down those responsible for the fatal attacks. Was it terrorism or just a random act of violence? Time will tell, but this crew of courageous men and women also know that time is of the essence. As far as they know, the more the clock ticks, the further the bombers could be getting away.

“Patriots Day” is a film that touches on some pretty sensitive material. The action is intense, the depictions of trauma and terror may make one cringe and weep, and the patriotism on display should have many cheering. Director Peter Berg (“Lone Survivor”) and Mark Wahlberg join forces for their third film together with more high octane action and suspense. This film isn’t really intended to be a piece of entertainment, though. Or is it? It is really hard to say, as Berg embellishes the film with plenty of heroic acts of patriotism, yet focuses on so much blood and violence, it somewhat veers the audience away from the real meaning behind this true event. The story, itself, is engaging and the film is well-crafted, that is, to a degree. I felt that the action and suspense were too heavily relied on in order to prevent the film from becoming “boring” to a vast majority of audiences.

While Berg says he attempted to make the film as factual as possible (with the exception of Wahlberg’s fictional character), he appears to focus on too many unimportant things: the personal lives of the terrorists, zooming in on graphic bloody images, and showing the brutal murder of a police officer. The story and subject matter is appealing, and we all want to see justice prevail. And, of course, we all want to see our favorite actors dominate their roles (which they certainly do). However, when you have a director and writing team focus on so much blood, violence, and suspense, in addition to poor attempts at humor, it really tears the audience away from the true meaning behind this real life story. There are some beautiful shots of the city of Boston, though, in addition to a simplistic emotional score by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross.

Sex/Nudity: The sexual content in “Patriots Day” is mild to moderate, as the audience sees a clothed married couple in bed passionately kissing. The man is shirtless and his wife is on top of him. One man is seen in his underwear after the police break into his home. There are a couple of light suggestive references and an officer’s wife says that his uniform turns her on. Another man is seen shirtless before he enters the shower, and the terrorists talk about how they are “fornicators.” There is mention of someone watching a lot of porn.

There is a ton of profane and vulgar language, as we hear north of 160 f-words (sometimes paired with “mother”), over 25 s-words, and about a dozen abuses of Jesus’ name (paired with the f-word at least once). God’s name is abused about a half dozen times (paired with d**n about twice), and we hear nearly ten combined uses of milder vulgarities, including a**, h*ll, and b**ch. A couple of mild insults like “numbnut” and “chowder head” are said, and the vulgar word “c***s***er” is uttered once. There are a few crude references made to male genitalia, and the phrase “p*ssing out” is said once.

The violence on display is very heavy; plenty of gaping, bloody wounds are shown, both in the hospital and at the marathon site. Even bone is exposed a few times. People cry in pain and agony, as we see their bloodied bodies carried away; some with missing limbs. We see splattered blood and bloodied limbs around the bombing site. Victims are shown in the ER and operating rooms, as surgeries are performed. Surgical tools are seen (including a saw) and can be heard as they’re being used. We later see patients recovering from amputations. The bombing itself is very intense, and later on in the film more explosions take place while explosives are tossed in the streets by the two terrorists, which send many flying.

There is plenty of gunfire as law enforcement closes in on the terrorists including an intense car chase with crashes. Many get shot, and we see yet more blood, including a couple nasty wounds. One scene involves a police officer being graphically shot in the face and then being murdered in cold blood, point blank. The scene cuts to the outside of the car, but we still see blood splatter over the windshield after the fatal shot to the head. I feel this very disturbing scene was unnecessarily graphic. During a gunfight, a man gets hit and run over by a car. We see his bloodied body. There are a couple moments of hand to hand fighting, including a character being pummeled in the face, another having his eyes gouged, and another nearly being strangled to death. We see the terrorists prepping their bombs and some characters playing a violent video game. One character gets a swollen knee from an injury, and the bloody clothes of victims are shown laid out at an FBI site.

Drug and Alcohol Content: On a handful of occasions, wine, beer, and other forms of alcohol are seen being consumed. There is talk about “drug busts,” characters smoke cigarettes and marijuana a few times, and one guy is seen smoking from a bong, apparently high.

“Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.” —Deuteronomy 31:6 (ESV)

Positive Themes: Though the film does not include any form of spirituality or nods towards God for guidance, “Patriots Day” is still filled with bold themes of courage, the importance of community and family, and patriotism. The film shares that we are at our highest potential when we come together and work together as a team. Sure, as the film displays, arguments and disagreements will happen. But we can work things out. We have to put our minds together and learn to resolve conflict. There are plenty of touching and very emotional themes of love and family, as families become separated after the bombing. As people becomes reunited by film’s end, one cannot help but shed a tear. Although “Patriots Day” primarily focuses on Sgt. Saunders, it does a solid job at taking little “breaks” from his fictional personal story by sharing stories of real-life characters who were affected during this very tragic time. The bravery, dedication, perseverance, and self-sacrifice of law enforcement was well represented in this film, and those who lost their lives during the attacks are honored at film’s end.

Other Content for Concern: The two terrorists in the film steal a car and kidnap a student. They make fun of his accent and feed him lies about America and 9/11.

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. —Ephesians 4:29

In Conclusion: “Patriots Day” tends to swing both ways when reading Ephesians 4:29. The profanity and vulgarity are nearly constant. But at the same time, characters tactfully use encouraging words to build each other up and express love and devotion to one another. The film also does an excellent job of displaying heroism and that terrorism is a terrible, terrible thing. Justice prevails in “Patriots Day,” but not before many lives are taken. While the film intends to salute and respect law enforcement and the heroes of April 15th, 2013, I cannot help but feel disturbed about the director’s choice to show the murder of a young, real life police officer. It seems tasteless, disturbing, and downright disrespectful, not only to the young officer’s legacy, but his grief stricken family.

While “Patriots Day” honors and remembers those who sacrificed their lives that fateful day, it also somewhat disrespects, as it focuses way too much on the horror many may wish to forget. It is a weak attempt at handling a very sensitive subject and could have been much more tastefully and respectfully done.

So, is “Patriots Day” a history lesson? The true story, itself, may very well be, but, as for the film, let’s just say it may be safe to pass this one up. Perhaps “Patriots Day” was made too soon and would have been safer in another director’s hands. I think it’s a little too early to be re-living the tragic events that took place on April 15th, 2013.

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” —John 16:33

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.


Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Comments below:
Positive
Positive—“Patriots Day” was as close to being there and knowing many of the people caught in this tragic event as one could imagine. The f-word used extensively and might be offensive to some; yet, essential to keep it real. The flow of incidents and the multi-department relations was spot on (city, state and federal) bypassing pride and prejudices amongst departments, getting the job done. It was the worst of times for Bostonians (as well as their fellow Americans), and the film shows their/our strength and courage in the midst of adversities. Highly recommended.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Buff, age 67 (USA)
Positive—The “F” word is used many, many times in this movie. Other than the over use of this word, it was an excellent movie. It showed the (behind the scenes) Boston City Marathon Bombing. All the law enforcement people came together as one to find the bombers. How they did it. What they went through. Their emotions coming forth to show they are human, just like us. The movie showed things that I didn’t even know what happened. It is well worth watching to gain a new respect for the policemen in our country. I do not recommend for young children to see this movie.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
—CJ Piarowski, age 57 (USA)
Positive—It establishes the message that good triumphs evil and provides one specific reason, which is that while evil plans and plots, good is instantaneous. Love conquers all.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—J. Lovejoy, age 60 (USA)
Neutral
Neutral—I know this movie was based on a true story, but did there have to be so much offensive language in this movie? I appreciated the movie in itself, but every second word in these actor’s lines was the four letter word! The story kept me wanting to watch but I didn’t need to hear the four letter word that was said many, many times in the movie! Maybe the makers of this movie wanted to make it really impressive of the incidents in the Boston Marathon bombing, but it wasn’t impressive to me.

There are so many good stories out there, but moviemakers ruin them for me by adding sex scenes and offensive language to them. The stories are excellent in themselves but to me this just ruins a movie. Usually, I can’t watch anything past a PG rating anymore. Sometimes PG is offensive to me as well.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Gloria Sihlis, age 57 (Canada)
Comments from young people
Neutral—Although “Patriots Day” has some good moral principles, like working together as a community and working with people you don’t necessarily agree with all the time, there are quite a few areas of concern for Christians. There is quite a smattering of swear words, and there is lots of violence ,like drawn out shootouts and about 40 explosions. My advice is this: if you’re thinking about going, proceed with caution. Definitely not a movie to take younger teens to (too much swearing and gunshots).
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Josh, age 18 (USA)
Movie Critics

“Patriots Day” is one of the most emotionally authentic films of 2016… and hopefully will get the awards attention it deserves. …
—Mark Hughes, Forbes

…“Patriots Day” is the movie CBS Films was put on this earth to produce… Genuinely exciting megaplex entertainment, informed by extensive research, featuring bona fide movie stars, and staged with equal degrees of professionalism and respect. …
—Peter Debruge, Variety

…“Patriots Day” works so well on a dramatic level that my qualms were silenced almost entirely from the start. …
—Glenn Kenny, The New york Times

…The hurtling action, speaking louder than any dialogue, gives a stirring sense of the suffering and heroism that flowed from the terror at the Boylston Street finish line. …
—Joe Morgenstern, The Wall Street Journal

…tense yet respectful… [4/5]
—Lanre Bakare, The Guardian

…a tense and tightly edited police procedural that never sinks to cheap emotional manipulation of the awful event at its center. …an exciting piece of work, but it seems to me to have one substantial flaw. At the end, after all the pain and loss and heartbreak we've seen caused by the Boston bombers, we're asked to accept the proposition that the best way to fight this sort of depraved violence is with “love.” …
—Kurt Loder, Reason

…Peter Berg’s movie, starring Mark Wahlberg in an invented role, is neither great nor gawdawful. It’s professionally made, slickly heartfelt, and is offered up as an act of civic healing. At best, it’s unnecessary. At worst, it’s vaguely insulting. …
—Ty Burr, The Boston Globe

…Kinetic, well cast and technically impressive — but not as stirring as it might have been. …nothing in the narrative proves remotely as affecting as the documentary footage and interviews that Berg includes at film’s end. …
—Sheri Linden, The Hollywood Reporter

…If Berg had dug deeper, he could have had a great film on his hands; as it stands, he’s delivered a rote, but occasionally thought-provoking, misfire.
—David Sims, The Atlantic

…Ham-fisted storytelling works against a well-meaning work. …
—Allen Salkin, New York Daily News

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