Pain and passion of being a patriot

Pain and passion of being a patriot

Review: Patriots Day

(M) Mark Wahlberg, John Goodman, Kevin Bacon

It is hard to believe it was only four years ago that a horrific bomb attack occurred on by-standers at the Boston Marathon. Director Peter Berg (Deepwater Horizon) provides a flashpoint perspective on that event in his latest docu-drama outing, Patriots Day. His favoured lead actor, Mark Wahlberg (Deepwater Horizon), heads the star-studded cast as Police Sergeant Tommy Saunders who finds himself at the heart of the events and the eventual capture of those responsible. Based on the book, Boston Strong, seasoned director Berg delivers an immersive experience of the city and national law enforcement as they investigate the events that tragically impacted this celebrated city and its residents.

But is it too soon to dramatise the events surrounding the Boston bombings?  The harsh realities and vulnerabilities of our world do become very real in Patriots Day‘s portrayal of the incidents. With the use of dramatic and actual news footage, Berg manages to provide the feeling of being at the epicentre of the terrorist act. It becomes fascinating cinema with the introduction of each character at the beginning and then slowly being made aware of what brings them to the eventual intersection with the brothers who carried out the bombing. What could have been a narrative mess, becomes a fascinating weaving together of the Bostonian’s stories.

Complementing Berg’s direction are the fine performances from all involved in the production. Wahlberg digs deep into his Boston roots and manages to portray one of the most personal roles of his career. Conveying the anger and desperation of the law enforcement teams, Wahlberg seems to represent the heart of his beloved city and the desperate desire to capture the men who attacked it. The patriotism and passion for the city and nation comes through the support of Kevin Bacon, J.K. Simmons, John Goodman and Michelle Monaghan. But the pain and disbelief involved are truly captured by those who portray the victims. From the couple who lose their limbs in the blast to the father separated from his young son, Berg is able to deliver the message that there are no victimless or faceless crimes.

The reality of these events is displayed with raw beauty, showing that situations like this contain the best and worst of the human condition. Mistakes by the city officials and federal officers are shown unapologetically because, in the rapid response to quickly find these perpetrators of evil, the potential for human error is inevitable. Radio frequencies not working, police being shot by friendly fire and the inevitable alcohol consumption by law enforcement are balanced on-screen with brilliant detective work, fascinating advancements in technology and human ingenuity. An excellent cinematic experience is the overall result.

A feeling of patriotism is inevitable for anyone with any connection to the United States Even through the mistake-riddled events, the sheer drive to protect and serve the wider community is on full display in Patriots Day. Along with the pride in the US is the depiction of a multicultural country and the value of that national characteristic. This docu-drama is worth venturing out to see for the sake of entertainment, but more to appreciate the privileges that are worth fighting for as a nation.

What are some of the bigger questions to consider from this film?

Where are the roots of patriotism? Patriots Day will cause the least patriotic person too consider their love for the country in which they live. Yet, is patriotism a biblical concept? Yes and no. A Christian should understand that their citizenship is not found in an earthly kingdom, but in the Kingdom of God. Not to diminish or undermine a person’s pride in their country, but any Christian should realise their first priority as a follower of God is loyalty to God.

Bible verses about loyalty to a country: Psalm 33:12-22, Hebrews 11:13-20, Philippians 3:20

Russell Matthews works for City Bible Forum Sydney and is a film blogger



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