Review: 'Patriots Day' Is a Profound and Moving Film

Why this Mark Wahlberg film is "terrific."

Rated - R

Four out of five stars

At some point, Mark Wahlberg and director Peter Berg are going to have a cable channel devoted to recreating actual events. Berg, who’s also an actor, excels at capturing and conveying raw human emotion. Wahlberg excels at earnestness and subtle humor, balancing Berg’s emotionally-fueled dramas, leading the two of them to deliver, within the last 12 months, two formidable fictionalized accounts of major tragic events.

Last year, we had "Deepwater Horizon," which was good. Here we have "Patriots Day," about the Boston Marathon bombing. And this film is terrific.

Wahlberg is an officer named Tommy Saunders, a high-ranking cop suffering through a temporary demotion. Part of his “punishment” is wearing a uniform and greeting VIPs at the finish line of the marathon. Berg introduces us to several of the surviving victims before their lives were turned upside down. We also meet the Tsarnaev brothers, the terrorists who planted the two bombs on "Patriots Day" 2013 and who would later shoot and kill an MIT police officer.

Berg turns a shot of lovers’ intertwined legs into a subtle harbinger of doom, focusing on the minutiae of life to establish a beauty and humanity in the mundane. And yet he also moves at a brisk and, I hate to say it, entertaining pace, keeping us on the edge of our seats while simultaneously breaking our hearts and, every so often, making us laugh.

Kevin Bacon is perfectly cast as special agent Richard DesLauriers, the FBI agent in charge of the investigation, and John Goodman is a force of nature as police commissioner Ed Davis. For good measure, we get Oscar-winner J.K. Simmons as the down-to-earth, cigarette-smoking Watertown sergeant Jeffrey Pugliese.

"Patriots Day" is a profound and moving film about a city, ripped apart by hate, that quickly comes together to heal through love, heroism and patriotism.