Reviewed by: Curtis McParland
acts of terror / terrorists
murder in the Bible
importance of first responders and investigators, and the difficulties they face
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
Did God make the world the way it is now? What kind of world would you create? Answer
Mark Wahlberg … Sgt. Tommy Saunders
Michelle Monaghan … Carol Saunders
J.K. Simmons … Sergeant Jeffrey Pugliese
Kevin Bacon … Richard DesLauriers
John Goodman … Commissioner Ed Davis
Melissa Benoist … Katherine Russell
Rachel Brosnahan … Jessica Kensky
Michael Beach … Gov. Deval Patrick
Alex Wolff … Dzhokhar Tsarnaev
Jay Giannone … Jimmy
See all »
|Director:||Peter Berg—“Lone Survivor” (2013), “Collateral” (2004), “Battleship” (2012)|
Closest to the Hole Productions
See all »
“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.
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.