Patriots Day
 
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Patriots Day

This third Wahlberg/Berg salute to American heroes is as purposeful, effective and unnerving as it should be.

The unflinching account of the Boston Marathon bombing never exploits, instead, it takes us, step by step, through those awful days when the world watched as terrorists attacked and were then taken down. We all know this is dramatic stuff, and, to his credit, director/writer Peter Berg knows he doesn’t have to ratchet things up. He lets the characters set the tone, and keeps the cinematic tricks to a minimum. Watching, we get and feel the message.

It may be a bit diverting to watch name actors slip into real life roles of those we came to know during the coverage of the actual event, but John Goodman, Kevin Bacon and especially J.K. Simmons bring self-less integrity to their roles. And yes, as good as Mark Wahlberg is (and how great is it to watch this talented actor constantly improve his craft?), it is a little silly to watch him show up at every key event during the days and nights of all this. I found myself, instead of being wrapped up in what was on the screen, wondering how it was that he, as a Boston cop, could cross city lines and, spontaneously, wind up a key part of somebody else’s operation. A real cop (this role is a composite) probably can’t do that, legally, and I, watching, probably shouldn’t have my mind wandering to such technicalities.

Perhaps the single thread that meets what I’m sure were the filmmakers’ goals is that of the young Asian MIT student, kidnapped by the terrorists. An actor named Jimmy Yang stands out in this starry surroundings, making us not just see the awful events through his eyes, but getting us cheering his clear headed victory.

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