Review: Patriots Day is a propaganda piece of patriotic mush

Mark Wahlberg as Tommy Saunders in Patriot's Day. Picture: Lionsgate

Mark Wahlberg as Tommy Saunders in Patriot's Day. Picture: Lionsgate - Credit: Lionsgate

Mark Wahlberg stars as the bad penny cop turned good with an expletive on hand for every occasion in film about Boston Marathon bombing.

Patriots Day (15)


Patriots Day offers a forensic procedural mosaic of the five days surrounding the bombing of the Boston Marathon in 2013 and the subsequent manhunt.

At the start it whizzes through a cross section of people – police, the authorities, FBI, ordinary people, the bombers – and we try to guess how they will figure in the events to unfold. Will they be victims, or heroes, or bystanders?

The film is a rolling news channel of a narrative: we are always being notified of what the time is and nobody appears without written identification appearing beneath them on screen.

It's a propaganda piece, a vigorous piece of patriotic mush, pushing the line that acts of terror hardens the resolution of the society that is affected by them and that strength comes through working together and all the agencies combining their skills and intelligence.

Most Read

It's like a cross between Nashville and a more circumspect 24.

The structure implies there is no longer space for the traditional loner hero, yet, let loose in this is the disruptive yapping dog that is Mark Wahlberg. He plays officer Tommy Saunders, a composite character bad penny who turns up at all the major events, though to little effect.

Bizarrely, Saunders is basically the same character Wahlberg played opposite Will Ferrell in the comedy The Other Guys: a cop returning from suspension, who is supposed to be on his best behaviour to get his job back, but is constantly bickering with any kind of authority and tears around trying to be heroic while everybody else is doing all the boring police work: you know, sitting down, checking all the CCTV footage, checking data base and investigating things thoroughly.

He wants to go out and play but everybody else is busy doing their homework.

Wahlberg has an expletive for every occasion and you really notice the swearing in this movie. It's not as foulmouthed as a Scorsese gangster flick but the cursing is very focused in this picture: nobody can speak about the bombers without including one expletive and each one is there to express the depth of the speaker's patriotism and their sense of national identity.

Each MF, F, or P of S, is a contracted proclamation of God Bless America.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter