‘Patriots Day’ dives into the lives impacted by the Boston Bombing

Director Peter Berg has brought Patriots Day, his latest true-story film, to theaters nationwide. Starring Mark Wahlberg, the film is Berg’s latest real-life drama, telling viewers the story of the Boston Marathon bombing; the film shows how one state came together in the midst of the nation’s worst terrorist attack since 9/11.

Wahlberg delivers a moving performance as Boston police officer Tommy Saunders. Berg managed to weave Saunders the fictional composite of multiple real first responders,  into the story from beginning to end. He is the one who makes sure the men in charge remember that this attack affects Boston as much as it affects the country as a whole.

Along for the ride is Michelle Monaghan, who plays the character Tommy Saunders’ wife. Berg also casts J.K. Simmons as real-life police Sergeant Jeffrey Puglies, who is on the outside looking in as the events of the bombing take place, not expecting to face the two bombers in person.

As the story begins to take shape, we first meet M.I.T. police officer Sean Collier, wandering the halls of M.I.T. and stumbles on a student who he is planning on taking to a concert that weekend.  We first meet the Tsarnaev brothers as the film begins. Tamerlan is a dedicated Islamist fanatic and an aspiring boxer, while Dzhokar is a 19-year-old drug dealer who is attempting to prove himself to his brother.

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The film also introduces the audience to Tamerlan’s wife Katherine Russell (Melissa Benoist), who is an enigma to the FBI. Berg intertwines his film with live footage of the bombings as well as the movements of the bombers.

Kevin Bacon appears as FBI agent Richard DesLauriers, who works with Wahlberg’s character to put a timeline of camera footage together to trace the movements of the Tsarnaev brothers. Berg allows viewers to see the bombing vividly but does not focus on the carnage.

The audience witnesses the chaotic scene as all of those involved in the investigation are trying to find the suspects quickly. In one scene, we see Police Commissioner Ed Davis and Masschusetts Governor Deval Patrick (Michael Beach) argue over whether the photos of the bombers should be released to the media, but their hand is forced when a news station threatens to release the photos to the public.

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Patriots Day succeeds in telling that story, taking some liberties with the reality to bring it into focus and to life.   The film succeeds in reminding the audience that no matter what happens, Americans stand united with their fellow citizens.