Patriots Day movie full length review - A Mixed Bag- Entertaining and Compelling, but Disappoints Overall
This movie comes out at awards season as an apparent surprise contender for the Oscars. It certainly had the source material and some substance to work with. So I went in hoping to be a believer.
This is a movie that gets mixed reviews: it's both good and bad.
The good is the fine direction and staging of the events that occurred. They were done with keen attention to detail and impressive accuracy to how the events transpired. Therefore, it makes for an effective action movie and thriller. It also does an effective job holding your attention, building suspense, and feeling for the unfortunate victims of the tragedy and carnage that occurred.
But the film falls short of greatness and even short of being anything special for the genre, a genre that most recently includes much better films like Zero Dark Thirty. These are basically recent manhunt movies for terrorists in events that only took place within three to five years ago before their release. Other examples are United 93 and to some extent, World Trade Center.
So don't go in expecting a masterpiece or anything mind blowing. However, it is a decent movie.
It does many things right but also many wrong. While it was nice to acknowledge the pride for the Boston PD and LE heroes involved in succeeding in solving the case, that alone isn't enough to make a movie great, obviously due to technicalities and all the other filmmaking aspects.
Wahlberg, while a likable guy trying his best, sort of was a distraction and not well cast as an imaginary Boston cop who was there that day and helped investigate the case. He's "okay" in the role, but a better character actor wouldn't have been as much of a distraction and probably more believable.
Then there's the long drawn out real life interviews at the end. There's a few movies with these this year, but they only show a handful of real life clips or summaries of "what happened to...". This one has several minutes of real life interviews and interviewees, from survivors to police officers to politicians and others involved, and it's just all over the place. It came off as amateur overall even though it was nice to hear from the survivors. It was just way too long and awkward for a feature film.
Last but not least, while realism was one of the film's biggest strengths as far as how events happened and their staging, including accurate depictions and casting for the Tsarnaev brothers and streets of Watertown the final showdown took place, I was hoping that if they went as far as to create a fictitious character in Wahlberg that they also might be bold and daring enough to tie in an alternative ending for Tamerlan; on the night it happened, live news video showed a naked handcuffed young man being escorted by LE and the reporter claimed that was the suspect and he was in custody (you can even look it up on YouTube- it looks identical to him), and an outside observer can put 2 and 2 together and at least picture and theorize that the PD killed him. Instead, they went with the recorded story that Dzokhar, his brother, ran him over. Of course it would have been controversial and might have led to possible backlash from many arenas, but that would have been compelling. Like I said, if they're going to make up a main character, why not add a surprise twist that may have very well happened according to video footage of the news to people who watched that night. Instead, it came off just a tad predictable.
Overall, though, it was a pretty decent movie.