Decided to spend the Trump inauguration watching this film. Easier said than done apparently, since a lot of other people thought to do the same, making the film sold out for the first showing of the day. Forcing me to get tickets to the next showing, which was more expensive. Hope you readers appreciate the sacrifices I make to watch these films and do these reviews for you.
Anyway, I thought this was a better film than Deepwater Horizon, and it makes me more eagerly look forward to the next Peter Berg directed film. Should be noted he also wrote part of the screenplay, along with a few others including Paul Tamasy who wrote the screenplays for all the… Air Bud movies? What the hell?
That’s almost as weird as the fact that the show Family Guy predicted the Boston marathon bombings a month before it happened.
With the tasteless conspiracy jokes out of the way, let’s get to the actual movie itself. The whole movie is largely a procedural, basically being a docudrama in a similar vane (or is it vein?) as The Path to 9/11 and United 93, and I guess Peter Grif- I mean Peter Berg’s previous two films. When it comes to procedurals and films that pass themselves off as based on true stories and being played out as semi-documentaries, I tend to be more critical of them and do a bit of fact-checking, something I will unleash some anger upon in my next dual review. So upon checking the website historyvshollywood.com, the film does seem to be largely accurate. I mean it’s not completely accurate (they never are), they had to take some liberties for the sake of drama/tension and time compression.
For instance, Mark Wahlberg’s character is a combination of 3 police officers who each did separate things related to the marathon bombings as opposed to just 1 guy who got involved in just about everything. Fair enough, they did similar stuff in Michael Bay’s Pain and Gain.
The other little bit that was fictionalized is this romance angle between this young policeman and a college student. That didn’t really happen, and the director said to have done it to “help convey his appeal.” That’s one bit I think they could’ve done without. I tend to dislike movies that use the “romance angle” to make characters more appealing. It’s lazy and trite, and it occurs far too often in movies, especially Michael Mann films like Heat, with the exception being The Insider, which is probably his most solid film next to The Last of the Mohicans. The Insider is another great procedural film I can recommend. Probably the best film on whistleblowing before whistleblowing became as big as it was during the mid-2000s.
Anyway, all that aside, as far as I can tell, this film stays pretty close to the facts. The director interviewed several eyewitnesses and police officers, and even had a few on set to assure that everything was done as accurately as possible. And it felt authentic when I watched it. After I watched the film I went online to see some of the videos which discussed the event itself, and they felt faithfully recreated in the movie. For instance, the Chinese foreign student who got carjacked by the terrorists. Hearing him talk about the event. It seemed to match up perfectly with the film.
It’s one of the most tense moments in the movie, only topped by what follows. The big neighborhood shootout. When this scene goes down, the film’s intensity level reaches its peak. Two cops confront the two terrorists in the middle of a neighborhood street and all hell breaks loose. Gunfire going off on both sides. The cops eventually escalate it by bringing out the assault rifle, only for the bombers to escalate it even further by throwing explosives at them which just start decimating all the nearby vehicles the police are using for cover. It’s one of the most intense and well-shot shootout scenes I’ve seen since Hacksaw Ridge (though that’s hardly fair since that’s a war film; let’s say since Blackhat, say what you will about Michael Mann but he knows how to film a shootout). If nothing else, the movie is worth seeing just for this sequence alone.
Note: In the video above, it states that one of the terrorists puts all the groceries back before running out of the gas station store. He would bomb a marathon, shoot a cop, kidnap an Asian and hijack his car, but he wouldn’t steal groceries. A youtube commenter made a pretty damn funny remark to this:
“I think somewhere in the Quran it says it’s totally acceptable to kill infidels and beat your wife, but if you steal convenience store chips, you are committing a direct threat to God himself. It’s unforgivable.”
As for the rest of the film, it starts off with a buildup to the marathon bombing, shows the immediate aftermath, showcasing the gory details of legs and limbs blown off, helping those who are injured, and then largely stays focused on the FBI and their procedures for tracking down and finding these terrorists. A bit slow up until the race starts, but it becomes very difficult to stop watching once the bombings happen and the manhunt begins.
As for the message the film delivers, the message ends up being love. Love conquers all. Now, normally, I would be sighing, facepalming, and possibly even laughing at this for being as tacked on as the love message in Chocolate. But this movie actually manages to pull it off, by stating that love conquers hate, in that our love for each other, for out fellow neighbors and countrymen, can overcome the hatred others have for us. That the community coming together to help take down the bombers and help the victims recover from this traumatic experience is something more powerful and inspiring than hatred for them and wanting to tear them all down will ever be. It’s a message, a call, for the country to unite and understand how important we are to each other. And it does it in a way that doesn’t feel too tacked on or too political in its message.
So all in all, solid film. Highly recommended. Currently the best film of 2017, though granted 2017 is only getting started.