Thursday 12 January 2017

Patriots Day ... Love is good, but why did bombers do it?

EVERYONE would have heard of the Boston Marathon bombings on April 15, 2013. The New Straits
Times newspaper in Malaysia provided indepth coverage of the event, right up to the capture of one of the two bombers in a boat in the Boston suburb of Watertown four days later.
   Director Peter Berg's film is a dramatisation of the event from the hours before the bombings to the capture. The bombings killed three people and injured 264.
 Since people are familiar with what transpired, even if it's nearly four years later, what could Berg offer? Well, he dramatises how the authorities pored  a multitude of evidence before releasing the pictures of the bombers.
   Berg, in his third collaboration with Mark Wahlberg, does action scenes well, and his dramatisation of the shootout between police and the two bombers in Watertown bears all the hallmarks he showered on Lone Survivor (2013) and Deepwater Horizon (2016). I felt as if I was one the neighbours in the street who witnessed the shootout.
   Wahlberg, while the poster child of this film, isn't the hero of this film. That award would go to the great city of Boston, which was called Boston Strong for its resilience in standing up to the attackers.
    Wahlberg plays the fictional Boston police Detective Sergeant Tommy Saunders, who is at the
Mark Wahlberg and Michelle Monaghan play
a fictional couple in 'Patriots Day'.
finishing line of the marathon to witness the bombings, help the FBI identify the bombers using CCTVs, and even be called upon to check out the aforementioned boat.
   A historical drama like this follows a certain path that viewers are familiar with. Viewers are introduced to some of the characters, for example, a married couple whose legs were amputated after the bombings, an MIT campus security guard who would later be shot dead by one of the brothers, a student from China whose black Mercedes SUV was carjacked with him in it, and the two bombers: Tamerlan Tsarnaev (Themo Melikidze), 26,  and his younger brother Dzhokhar, 19.
  The two brothers spent part of their childhoods in the former Soviet republic of Kyrgyzstan but lived in the US for about a decade prior to the bombings. They planned and carried out the attack on their own and were not linked to any terrorist group. Dzhokhar was sentenced to death in May 2015.
   Both brothers get equal time but it's the American-accented and big-eyed Dzhokhar who will leave a lasting impression on you.
  Berg directs the film competently, but Wahlber's presence hampers the film because his role is
Kevin Bacon, Wahlberg and John Goodman
pore over evidence.
becoming all too familiar in a Berg film.
   His background story, for example, his suspension from being a detective and him telling another officer about his wife, is a distraction and doesn't add anything worthy to the film.
   I empathise with what the city and country experienced, and even shed tears watching the carnage and the resilience of amputees in the film.
   But Wahlberg's character says something that got me thinking: We can't defeat them; we can only respond with love, and this is repeated at the end of the film.
   Berg, one of the writers of the film, should have asked why the brothers committed their dastardly act. It's easy to say that the US will respond with love whenever there's an attack on Americans. But wouldn't it have been better if Berg had triggered a debate on why people detest America and want to attack its citizens? The easy answers of "jealousy" and "hate" don't cut it anymore.

 2 1/2 out of 5 stars




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