A well-deserved tribute to Patriot’s Day, the docudrama about the terrorism at the Boston Marathon, is that despite its Hallmark message of love triumphing over hate, it remains a riveting, compelling movie on many levels. It’s a tense whodunit, and an even more excrutiating “how-and-when-to-do -it” as the decision of whether to release the surveillance photos of the two suspects will help or hinder attempts to find them It illustrates the power plays between various levels of local government and federal investigators and enforcers It doesn’t shy away from explicitly showing the horrific injuries sustained by survivors nor the depths of grief at the loss of life It focuses on the dedication of medical workers and the willingness of ordinary, untrained people to rush towards helping victims as opposed to running away in fear. Perhaps, even more bravely, it restores the role of heroes to the men in blue and other first responders - a role too quickly forgotten after 9/11 This is a movie that should be seen by all Americans who too hastily jumped onto the bandwagon of Black Lives Matter and various politicians to condemn our policemen en masse for the actions of a tiny fraction of their colleagues
Peter Berg and Mark Wahlberg have successfully collaborated on other disaster films but this one strikes most closely to home, dealing with an activity in which people of all ages could participate - as athletes, as recreational runners, as spirited observers of a thrilling contest or just patriotic fans of their own city. This last category figures prominently in the final uplifting slogan of Boston Strong as we see the Red Sox trade their team jerseys in their post-marathon game for ones featuring the single word BOSTON. Sadly, this movie is all too timely as various other attacks by Muslim jihadists continue to recur throughout our country and the world - most recently in Berlin The ideology behind jihad is skimmed over lightly in this film with more emphasis given to the notion that Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the older more charismatic brother, dominated both his wife and younger brother Dzhokar into complying with his personal agenda - one which the younger brother might not have pursued independently. In a climactic scene in which the two brothers are fleeing Boston and driving to New York with two more bombs in the car, Dzhokar is seen resisting one aspect of his brother’s plan - an action that provokes Tamerlan, an amateur boxer, into a physical confrontation in which he beats and threatens to kill his brother if he doesn’t do exactly as instructed This scene (which had no witnesses) dramatizes as fact the subsequent legal strategy of Dzhokar’s defense team in trying to avoid the death penalty for their client. It stands out as one of the few instances in which there is no hard evidence for the audience to gauge whether the events we are watching ever took place In the courtroom, jurors would hear the prosecution’s rejection of that theory, which they ultimately preferred when they sentenced Dzhokar to death But, since most of the film uses surveillance film from many sources, we tend to accept the “truth” of what we are shown, forgetting that this is a feature film and not even a documentary It was an odd choice on the part of the filmmakers to not hedge the presentation of this slant as something suggested by a friend or family member (hearsay) instead of showing it as a re-enactment which appears to be true.
The overriding thrust of of this film is the enormous courage shown by the police and the amputees along with the many people who rallied around to heal them and cheer them on. Their determination to overcome this tragedy and continue to live positively and productively is inspirational and of course, a rebuke to those intent on destroying our culture. But there remain those whose lives were wickedly stolen and those parents and loved ones for whom that murderous theft can never be compensated. No matter how strong they are, we need to remember that they will also forever belong to Boston Devastated
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