Patriots Day

Peter Berg directs fiercely masculine, patriotic films that are grounded in Hollywood liberalism, that is, they are not jingoistic celebrations of American exceptionalism. Rather, they depict the exceptionalism of Americans and the compassion we exhibit in a crisis. While Berg’s work is often artful, after a fashion, to my eye, it is mainly methodical and structurally pristine. In other words, Berg’s stories are always told clearly and economically. Patriots Day, his retelling of the manhunt that followed the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013, is taut and completely engaging and features winning performances by Mark Wahlberg, J. K Simmons and Kevin Bacon as city and federal law enforcement officers chasing bombing suspects, the Tsarnaev brothers (Alex Wolff and Themo Melikidze). The film seamlessly weaves together the stories of the first responders, the victims of the attack and those whose lives were affected – or ended – by the brothers as the radicalized terrorists attempted to leave Boston for New York City. It’s a fine picture. Recommended.

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