Patriots’ Day is a state holiday in Massachusetts (and a few other states) celebrating the anniversary of Revolutionary War victories.
It was designated as the day for the running of the Boston Marathon in 1897. The entire state is heavily focused on the annual event. The day and the Marathon are joyously celebrated. That was so until April 15th, 2013. And it is again since then.
That was the day when two young men in Boston deposited bombs at the finish line of the Marathon course. Three people were killed and many were seriously injured. This movie, Patriots Day, gives us some insight into the astute and resourceful procedures that the investigators used to solve this monstrous crime.
The Boston police, without any hard clues about the perpetrator of the horror, begin their investigation. The FBI shows up and determines it was an act of terrorism. That makes it a federal case, and puts them in charge. Unlike fictional crime movies, the locals and the feds do not face off against each other, but are cooperative and united in their mission.
The opening scenes of Patriots Day show us brief looks at the private lives of some of the main characters. John Goodman is the Police Commissioner. J.K. Simmons is a police sergeant in the neighboring town. Michael Beach is the governor of Massachusetts. Heading the FBI team, Kevin Bacon is agent Richard DesLauriers. And throughout the film, we get to know several students at the Boston universities. The central character in Patriots Day is police officer Tommy Saunders, played by Mark Wahlberg.
A fascinating part of Patriots Day is the revealing scenes of the two brothers, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and his younger brother Tamerlan Tsarnaev, who actually did the horrible deed. While Tamerlan shows some hesitance, Dzhokhar is totally committed to the plan — and is fully supported by his wife.
After the bombing, we are witness to the terrible aftermath of people being carted to hospitals for treatment of wounds which will change their lives forever.
The FBI and local police, in an impressive effort, identify the guilty pair based on films taken at the scene. There follows an extensive manhunt to apprehend them, during which there are some encounters with gun battles and the ultimate death of the older brother.
The younger, Tamerlan, has escaped but he is captured after four days of police forces going door to door and following every clue available to them.
Patriots Day moves along at a rapid pace and the tension does not ease, even though we know, or remember, the outcome. There is no indication that any of the events or agency actions are invented for the movie.
Some interceding of actual newsreels from that time help that impression. The only deviation in this is the portrayal of Tommy Saunders. This character in the film is a composite of several officers in the real event.
Patriots Day is a 2016 film which can be viewed on several TV streaming services.