Patriot’s Day reviews penned by Variety‘s Peter Debruge, The Hollywood Reporter‘s Shari Linden and Indiewire‘s Steve Greene suggest that Peter Berg and Mark Wahlberg‘s Patriot’s Day is a more layered and complex ensemble-type deal than the promos have indicated.
The only unfortunate aspect may be the decision to wedge Mark Wahlberg‘s Sgt. Tommy Saunders, a composite character, into the action whenever and however possible so he can play the impassioned, connect-the-dots hero.
“To the extent that the film works as a composite celebration of the dozens of people who came together to make ‘Boston strong,’ it’s an unwelcome distraction trying to follow Wahlberg’s character as he elbows his way into scene after scene, the way Jack Bauer or some fictional anti-terrorist action figure might,” Debruge writes.
“Wahlberg may be the star, but he’s not the hero of Patriots Day,” Debruge explains. “That would be Dun Meng (Jimmy O. Yang), the young Chinese immigrant who called 911. And Sgt. Jeffrey Pugliese (J.K. Simmons), the small-town police officer who actually tackled one of the terrorists. And Sean Collier (Jake Picking), the MIT campus cop who refused to let them take his weapon.”
“Wahlberg is no less engaging than in any of his somewhat under-appreciated screen performances,” says Linden. “Yet this is the least interesting of the men of duty he’s played for Berg, more a stand-in for the American working-class hero than a fully fleshed character. It’s no fault of Wahlberg’s when his brief third-act monologue remains a screenwriterly statement of theme, never finding a pulse.”
Greene notes that “the crowning achievement of Patriots Day (and possibly Berg’s directorial career) is the trio of recreations that show how this dark episode transformed Boston and its suburban surroundings into a stage for urban warfare.
“The second of these three, a mid-street standoff between the Tsarnaev [brothers] and Watertown and Boston police units, is as gripping as any on-screen battle in recent memory. Frantically cutting between instigators and enforcers, the film takes no delight or perverse pleasure in this neighborhood-set destruction. This calibrated juggling of perspective, amidst a hail of IEDs, conveys the terror and uncertainty of those under attack.”
Here’s another positive review, written by The Guardian‘s Lanre Bakare.