Saturday, January 14, 2017

Patriots Day (2016)

IMDb plot summary: An account of Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis's actions in the events leading up to the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing and the aftermath, which includes the city-wide manhunt to find the terrorists behind it.
Directed by Peter Berg. Starring Mark Wahlberg, John Goodman, Kevin Bacon, and J. K. Simmons.

Man, my reactions to this movie went all over the place. 10 minutes in, I was overwhelmed by how many new characters they were introducing and how little connection they seemed to have to the narrative, though I trusted they'd all come together eventually (they did mostly, but it's a style of character introduction that works much better in books than on film). 30 minutes in, I found myself wondering why this movie had been made, since the story was well-publicized at the time so it wasn't new but we weren't really distant enough from this story to feel like making it an emotional vehicle was justified. 60 minutes in, I was impressed with how it had turned into a pretty tight little thriller. 90 minutes in, I was frustrated that it kept trying to make tiny little serious points about Islamophobia or our treatment of possible terrorism suspects, only to abandon them in favor of a car chase.

Finally, as the credits rolled, I found myself struggling to put all these thoughts together into a coherent view of the film. It's hard to not come away feeling like patriotic propaganda was just thrown in your face (though, really, the title alone gives that away) but most of this really happened, so it's not some filmmakers just concocting feel-good stories about America. But as with American Sniper a few years ago, it's infuriating when the film raises a few serious questions about the ethics of our on-screen heroes, only to ignore them as not really serious ethical concerns at all.

I don't know. I have conflicting feelings about my country and the war on terrorism these days, and this was a weird film for me to go see, and I'm still trying to disentangle my personal thoughts about life from my personal thoughts about the film. What I do think I can say for sure is that if it was trying to be an action crime thriller, it's got holes. If it was trying to be a feel-good reminder of the strength of the American people (as the credits seemed to suggest), it's more promising but still has holes.

2.5 stars.

How it entered my Flickchart:
Patriots Day < Cry-Baby
Patriots Day > Miss Congeniality
Patriots Day > Little Lord Fauntleroy
Patriots Day > Dogtooth (this is a tough choice, actually)
Patriots Day < Minority Report
Patriots Day > The Hurt Locker
Patriots Day < Josh and the Big Wall
Patriots Day < Singles
Patriots Day < The Prince and the Pauper (2000)
Patriots Day > The Dinner Game
Patriots Day > Do You Like Hitchcock?

Final spot: #1396 out of 2560.

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