Patriots Day (film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Peter Berg|
|Based on||Boston Strong|
by Casey Sherman
|Cinematography||Tobias A. Schliessler|
|Box office||$50.5 million|
Patriots Day is a 2016 American drama film about the Boston Marathon bombings and the subsequent terrorist manhunt. Directed by Peter Berg and written by Berg, Matt Cook, and Joshua Zetumer, the film is based on the book Boston Strong by Casey Sherman and Dave Wedge. It stars Mark Wahlberg, Kevin Bacon, John Goodman, J.K. Simmons, Michelle Monaghan, and Alex Wolff. It marks the third collaboration between Berg and Wahlberg, following Lone Survivor and Deepwater Horizon.
Principal photography began on March 29, 2016, in New York City, and also filmed in Boston, Los Angeles, New Orleans and Philadelphia. The film premiered on November 17, 2016, at the AFI Fest. Distributed by CBS Films and Lionsgate, Patriots Day was released in Boston, New York and Los Angeles on December 21, 2016, followed by a nationwide expansion on January 13, 2017. The film was a box office disappointment, grossing just $50 million worldwide against a production budget of $45 million, but it also received many positive reviews for Berg's direction and the performances of its cast, and was chosen by the National Board of Review as one of the top ten films of 2016.
The title refers to Patriots' Day, the Massachusetts state holiday on which the Boston Marathon is held.
On April 14, 2013, Sergeant Tommy Saunders is arresting a suspect and failing to convince Commissioner Davis to let him off working the marathon as punishment duty the next day. During the Boston Marathon, brothers Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev detonate two bombs, causing widespread panic. A young couple, Patrick Downes and Jessica Kensky, are injured and taken to separate hospitals, where they are both required to have their legs amputated. Steve Woolfenden, a family man, is also injured and separated from his toddler son, Leo, who is taken by the police to a safe location.
FBI agent Richard DesLauriers is assigned to investigate the bombings in collaboration with Boston police commissioner Ed Davis, while Police Sergeant Tommy Saunders searches for evidence and helps people that have been injured or separated from their loved ones in the chaos, including Patrick, Jessica, Steven and Leo. FBI analysts review footage of the bombing and identify Dzhokhar and Tamerlan as suspects, but DesLauriers is reluctant to release their pictures to the public without further evidence. His hand is forced when the pictures are leaked to the press, while Pugliese's men begin conducting door-to-door searches for the pair.
Dzhokhar and Tamerlan kill officer Sean Collier in a failed attempt to steal his sidearm, and then carjack student Dun Meng, telling him of their plans to conduct another bombing in New York City. Just as Dzhokhar enters the Shell Gas station convenience store, Meng escapes from the car and runs to the Mobil Gas Station so that he can call the police; the brothers flee in the stolen car. Saunders arrives at the scene, learns of the brothers' plan and is given the stolen car's GPS tracking number, leading police to the pair, which leads to an armed confrontation. The ensuing shootout where the brothers use both firearms and bombs, sees several officers injured. While Tamerlan is shooting, Watertown Police Sergeant Jeffrey Pugliese fires at his ankle, wounding him and hindering his ability to gather more explosives. Tamerlan orders Dzhokhar to run to New York City to continue the rampage while he makes a last stand. As Tamerlan is subdued by the police, Dzhokhar runs over his brother in his flight, killing him as he escapes in the chaos.
Meanwhile, Tamerlan's wife Katherine Russell and Dzhokhar's college friends are detained by the FBI Hostage Rescue Team and questioned by the High-Value Interrogation Group. Katherine refuses to disclose any knowledge of her husband's illegal activities, paraphrasing the Quran in defiance, while Dzhokhar's friends appear oblivious to his plans, despite having earlier found bomb components in his possessions. A local man named David Henneberry later finds Dzhokhar hiding under the sheets of his boat and calls the police. Dzhokhar is quickly surrounded and arrested after a brief standoff, as Saunders and his colleagues celebrate. The Boston police are invited to attend a Boston Red Sox game, where David Ortiz thanks them for their heroism and tells them to "stay strong".
Dzhokhar was convicted on thirty counts and sentenced to death by lethal injection and is currently waiting for his appeal in federal prison; his three college friends were arrested for obstructing the bombing investigation and authorities are continuing to seek information regarding Russell's possible involvement in the bombings.
- Mark Wahlberg as Boston Police Department Sergeant Tommy Saunders
- Kevin Bacon as Richard DesLauriers, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Boston field office
- John Goodman as Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis
- J. K. Simmons as Watertown Police Sergeant Jeffrey Pugliese
- Michelle Monaghan as Carol Saunders, Tommy's wife and registered nurse
- Alex Wolff as Dzhokhar Tsarnaev
- Themo Melikidze as Tamerlan Tsarnaev
- Michael Beach as Governor of Massachusetts Deval Patrick
- Vincent Curatola as Boston Mayor Thomas Menino
- James Colby as Boston Police Superintendent William Evans
- Jake Picking as MIT Officer Sean Collier, who was killed by the Tsarnaev brothers 79 hours after the bombings
- Melissa Benoist as Katherine Russell, Tamerlan Tsarnaev's widow
- Jimmy O. Yang as Dun Meng (Chinese: 孟盾), the driver the Tsarnaevs carjacked 80 hours after the bombing, who escaped at a gas station
- Christopher O'Shea as Patrick Downes, who lost his leg in the bombings
- Rachel Brosnahan as Jessica Kensky, who lost her leg in the bombings
- Khandi Alexander as Veronica the Interrogator
- Sean Avery as Watertown Officer on Franklin Street
- David Ortiz as Himself
- Cliff Moylan as Sergeant John MacLellan
- Curtis J. Bellafiore as Officier Joey Reynolds
- Token as Roommate
This film also includes a cameo appearance of the real Dun Meng inside the pizza restaurant in Malden, Massachusetts, as well as the real David Henneberry, who was outside for a short time during the search for the bomber. Ken Casey, singer and bassist for Boston punk band Dropkick Murphys, also has a cameo as a man on a porch.
The film was one of what had originally been three proposed about the bombings, the other two being Boston Strong (based on the book of the same title), set to be directed by Daniel Espinosa and star Casey Affleck, and Stronger, about bombing victim Jeff Bauman, starring Jake Gyllenhaal. It was to depict Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis' experiences during the manhunt. CBS Films purchased the rights to Boston Strong and merged it into the existing script. Stronger was made as a separate film, and released on September 22, 2017.
On March 31, 2015, CBS Films announced that it was producing the film as Patriots' Day, depicting the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing and manhunt. The film's script was written by Matt Charman, and focused on Boston Police Commissioner Edward F. Davis. The film is also based on the book Boston Strong and material from 60 Minutes. Its final version, not focused specifically on Davis, was written by Peter Berg, Matt Cook, and Joshua Zetumer; Mark Wahlberg plays police officer Sgt. Tommy Saunders and Michelle Monaghan plays his wife, Carol. Wahlberg produced the film along with Scott Stuber, Dylan Clark, Stephen Levinson, Michael Radutzky, Hutch Parker, and Dorothy Aufiero. By February 2016, the title had dropped the apostrophe to become Patriots Day. Also by then, J. K. Simmons had joined the cast as Watertown PD Sgt. Jeffrey Pugliese.
CBS Films and Lionsgate co-financed the film, with Lionsgate also handling distribution. On March 8, 2016, Jimmy O. Yang joined the film's cast to play Dun Meng, who was carjacked by the Tsarnaev brothers. On the same day, Vincent Curatola was cast to play the mayor of Boston, Thomas Menino, who was in office for his fifth term when the bombings took place. On March 11, 2016, John Goodman signed on to play former Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis. On March 25, 2016, James Colby joined the film to play William B. Evans, a Boston PD superintendent, and following him, Michelle Monaghan also joined the film, to play Carol Saunders, Tommy's wife. On March 31, Kevin Bacon joined the cast as FBI agent Rick Deslauriers, and on April 4, 2016, Alex Wolff and Themo Melikidze were cast in the film as Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, responsible for the bombing and later manhunt. Michael Beach later joined the film to play the Governor of Massachusetts Deval Patrick.
On April 6, 2016, Rachel Brosnahan and Christopher O'Shea joined the film to play newlyweds Jessica Kensky and Patrick Downes, who were at the finish line, and were both seriously injured but survived. The following day, Lana Condor was cast in the role of Sean Collier's prospective girlfriend. On May 5, 2016, Melissa Benoist was cast in the film to play Katherine Russell, the widow of Tamerlan Tsarnaev, with Khandi Alexander set to play a law enforcement interrogator Veronica, Jake Picking as MIT Police Officer Sean Collier, who was killed 79 hours after the bombing. David Ortiz, who retired from the Boston Red Sox after the 2016 season, appears as himself.
Principal photography began on March 29, 2016, in Quincy, Massachusetts with production offices and a soundstage set up in one of the Centennial Park warehouses in Peabody, Massachusetts. All interior scenes at the FBI warehouse headquarters, as well as exterior 'command tent' scenes, were shot there. Filming was previously scheduled to take place on Laurel Street in Watertown to recreate the shootout that took place between police and the Tsarnaev brothers on the actual location, but after objections by residents, town officials denied permission for the film to be shot there. The City of Malden was approached to stand in for Laurel Street, and ended up with eight locations in the film. The film crew then approached University of Massachusetts Dartmouth officials for permission to shoot some scenes at the campus, a request that was denied by its chancellor, Gerry Kavanaugh. Simmons College stood in the place for exterior shots of UMass Dartmouth.
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where the Tsarnaev brothers killed MIT Police Officer Sean Collier, had allowed the film production to shoot "entirely peaceful scenes" on the campus for three days in June. Filming also took place at Collier's actual house. The marathon finish line on Boylston Street was duplicated at the Naval Air Station South Weymouth, in addition to scenes filmed at the actual finish line on the day of the 2016 marathon. Dzhokhar's capture was filmed in Framingham, Massachusetts on its third anniversary. Additional filming was conducted at Doyle's Cafe in Jamaica Plain on April 14, 2016, Watertown, Massachusetts for shots of the police station and the sequence depicting Dun Meng escaping to the Mobil Gas station unlike the surveillance footage which was shot in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and at Lasell College in Newton, Massachusetts on May 18, 2016.
"Forever (2007 version)" by Dropkick Murphys plays during the closing credits of the film however is not included on the film's soundtrack.
Patriots Day premiered on the closing night of the AFI Fest on November 17, 2016. It had a red carpet premiere at the Boch Centre Wang Theatre on December 14, 2016. The film was released in New York, Boston, Los Angeles, New Orleans, Philadelphia, Sofia, Bulgaria and Paris, France on December 21, 2016, followed by a wide release on January 13, 2017.
Patriots Day grossed $31.9 million in the United States and Canada and $18.5 million in other territories for a worldwide total of $50.5 million, against a production budget of $45 million.
In North America, the film had its expansion alongside the openings of Monster Trucks, The Bye Bye Man, and Sleepless, as well as the wide expansions of Silence and Live by Night, and was expected to gross $18–20 million from 3,120 theaters in its four-day MLK opening weekend. It made $560,000 from Thursday night previews, less than the $860,000 made by Berg and Wahlberg's Deepwater Horizon in September. The film ended up opening to $12.9 million (a four-day total of $14.2 million), finishing below expectations and 6th at the box office.
On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 80% based on 215 reviews, with an average rating of 6.8/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "Patriots Day offers a stirring, solidly crafted tribute to the heroes of a real-life American tragedy without straying into exploitative action thriller territory." On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 69 out of 100, based on 42 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A+" on an A+ to F scale, one of fewer than 90 films in the history of the service to receive such a score.
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Kyle Smith of the New York Post called it: "A great American movie about the greatness of ordinary Americans, Patriots Day combines an electrifying manhunt with the intimacy and feel for character writer-director Peter Berg showed in his brilliant TV series Friday Night Lights." Peter Debruge of 'Variety wrote: "It’s genuinely exciting megaplex entertainment, informed by extensive research, featuring bona fide movie stars, and staged with equal degrees of professionalism and respect."
Reception from the Boston area
Though the film has mostly garnered approval among critics, many Boston-based publications criticized it for glamorizing the events it was based upon, and for the film's focus on Wahlberg's fictional character. In his review for The Boston Globe, Ty Burr wrote: "It’s professionally made, slickly heartfelt, and is offered up as an act of civic healing. At best, it’s unnecessary. At worst, it’s vaguely insulting", and when further referencing local moviegoer's reaction to Wahlberg's heroic but fictional Tommy Saunders character, he simply stated, "We don’t really want to see people who weren’t there. Especially when they’re everywhere" Writing for Esquire, Boston-based critic Luke O'Neil also criticized Wahlberg's character, stating: "For all his talk of honoring his people, Wahlberg seems content to rely on the most hackneyed of Masshole signifiers in their portrayal." Conversely, The Boston Herald gave the film a positive review.
In response Peter Berg stated that some people automatically disliked the film as they may have been in close proximity to the Boston bombings or they believed the film was made too quickly after the events had occurred. Katharine Q. Seelye, who was not from Boston, wrote in The New York Times that the Saunders character was "[t]he biggest point of divergence", as Boston-area residents disliked the composite character's involvement in all the major events when he was not a single actual person, while people not from the Boston area "may even appreciate [Saunders] as a narrative device" and "have not really questioned" Saunders's role. She concluded "that moviegoers outside New England pretty much accept the film on its own terms, as entertainment, and Bostonians do not."
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- Official website
- Patriots Day on IMDb
- Patriots Day at AllMovie
- Patriots Day at History vs. Hollywood