FILM Pa­tri­ots Day

Yorkshire Post - Culture & The Guide - - REVIEWS - ON GEN­ERAL RE­LEASE ALISTAIR HARK­NESS

Fol­low­ing Fri­day Night Lights, Lone Sur­vivor and Deep­wa­ter Hori­zon, di­rec­tor Peter Berg is fast be­com­ing the pop­ulist Michael Mann.

But where Mann has in­creas­ingly trans­formed the main­stream thriller into an ab­stract art­form to re­flect the un­cer­tainty of the world around his char­ac­ters, Berg has be­come a mas­ter of de­ploy­ing high-end docu­d­rama tech­niques to re­cent Amer­i­can his­tory in or­der to make sense of the chaos from a blue-col­lar per­spec­tive. That im­pulse finds its most de­fin­i­tive ex­pres­sion in Pa­tri­ots Day, a grip­ping, multi-an­gled drama­ti­sa­tion of the 2013 Bos­ton marathon bomb­ing and the citywide man­hunt that fol­lowed.

Berg reg­u­lar Mark Wahlberg takes the lead as Bos­ton PD homi­cide de­tec­tive Tommy Saun­ders, a fic­tional amal­gam of sev­eral key play­ers whose pres­ence al­lows

Berg to spin a lot of nar­ra­tive plates with­out los­ing fo­cus. That’s im­por­tant. Rig­or­ous dra­matic reen­act­ments – which make ef­fec­tive use of real news clips and mockedup sur­veil­lance footage – put us in the mo­ment with the vic­tims, the first re­spon­ders and the ter­ror­ists them­selves, sim­u­lat­ing the con­fu­sion of the at­tack with wrench­ing ex­ac­ti­tude. But as the film moves into the in­ves­ti­ga­tion side, Wahlberg’s char­ac­ter pro­vides con­ti­nu­ity, al­low­ing Berg to build up a big­ger pic­ture of what was hap­pen­ing. This makes for a film that’s un­de­ni­ably tense and about as ex­cit­ing as ac­tion movies get.

Yet it never feels ex­ploita­tive or ar­ti­fi­cially emo­tive. Though sin­cere in its celebration of Amer­i­can val­ues, it’s smart in its will­ing­ness to ac­knowl­edge the com­plex­i­ties of the world by es­chew­ing the ram­pant knee-jerk jin­go­ism one might ex­pect from a film with this ti­tle.

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