The people of Boston celebrate Patriots Day annually. The celebration includes the running of the Boston Marathon and unites this great American city. But on Monday, April 15, 2013, this day would take on a whole new meaning as bombs exploded near the finish line of the marathon. Patriots Day, by director Peter Berg, tells us the story of the ordinary people of Boston who came together in an extraordinary fashion to deal with terrorism in their city.
Many of us know the story of the marathon bombing, but what about the stories of some of the people who were thrust into the limelight by being in the middle of the heinous attack?
People like Tommy Saunders (Mark Wahlberg) — a cop who was assigned crowd control near the finish line as a final step in his rehabilitation from an earlier incident. He needed to take control in the city he loved and step up to the challenges thrown his way to protect his family and the family that is known simply as Boston.
People like FBI Special Agent Richard DesLauriers (Kevin Bacon) who found himself heading up the investigation of an attack on American soil that stunned a city and a nation. And Jeffrey Pugliese (J.K. Simmons), a police sergeant in neighboring Watertown who found the most wanted people in America had come to his fair city.
I could write two thousand words about each of the individuals Patriots Day showcases in this film — and that would still be less than they deserve. However, the film shows this isn’t about any one individual; rather, it is about the collective Boston. Boston came together in a time of need with leaders working together to reach the finish line. Days turned into nights while investigators looked for the proverbial needle in a haystack. The attempt to find answers was a race to preserve the values that these men and women held dear.
All involved loved their city and the people in it. It didn’t matter whether they were born there, or came from outside to be one with Bostonians — they worked together to accomplish the task in front of them.
What Berg does so effectively in this film is to tell a story out of love. He shows not only the victims and investigators, but also the bombers and their friends in a story that doesn’t rely on hate but on the love necessary to get through a difficult situation as a family would.
It is a story we can all relate to: rising up on our haunches to defend our family against those who would harm us. No one knew the moment the bombs exploded who was at fault, but Bostonians and Americans knew one thing — no one could keep us down.
Thanks to a compelling real-life story brought to the screen by a skilled director, Patriots Day is one of the best films I saw in 2016. And despite my Midwestern roots, Patriots Day made clear to me that I Am Boston and collectively We Are Boston.
Patriots Day is available On Demand beginning March 28. Check your cable system for availability.