Inspiring, horrific and suspenseful, PATRIOTS DAY details the event leading up to and the aftermath of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing.
Marc Wahlberg stars as Tommy Saunders, an every-man Boston police officer stationed near the finish line when the bombs go off. The first half hour of the film provides a view into the lives of Tommy and a half dozen characters that will come into play during the story, but not necessarily when you expect.
Writer/Director Peter Berg (Lone Survivor, Deepwater Horizon) structures the film to allow you to see the everyday life of both our heroes and the despicable radical Islamic brothers who plan the bombing to take as many innocent American lives as possible.
Berg also does a terrific job editing in as much real footage that was captured that day as possible, giving the entire movie a handheld camera "you are there" feel that serves it well.
I knew the basics of the story, but was amazed at how much of the history I didn't know.
John Goodman is very good as Boston Commissioner Ed Davis, Kevin Bacon is excellent as the FBI special agent in charge, torn between the shackles of being politically correct in his response and releasing everything he knows to catch the killers.
JK Simmons is great as the Police Chief of the small town where our two terrorists end up at the conclusion and Michelle Monaghan is very good as Tommy's wife. Wahlberg shows real range here and is very moving, channeling his deep love of Boston in tribute to the cities heroes.
The last 30 minutes is almost unbearable tension as the two brothers go on the run, in a killing spree that demonstrates their complete lack of value for human life and their absurd, fanatical beliefs that threaten anyone they come in contact with in the city.
One smaller performance that makes a massive impact is Khandi Alexander's role as the interrogator of Katherine, the radical sympathizer wife of the older terrorist brother. She's riveting in the part and inspires cheering when the terrorist says "I have my rights" and she responds "honey, you ain't got shit". Amen.
The music score by Nine Inch Nails Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross is haunting and almost non-stop, providing the same intrusive, interesting accompaniment they did with their score to "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo".
The film concludes with moving scenes of the real life people portrayed in the film, sharing their perspective on finding strength in tragedy and the fact that the disgusting methods of radical Islamic terrorists can never, in the end, triumph over our American love of country, patriotism and each other.
A powerful message in these dangerous times.
PATRIOTS DAY gets a B.