Patriots Day: What You Need To Know
First staged in 1897 and inspired by the reintroduction of the long-distance running event the 1896 Olympic games in Athens the previous year, the Boston Marathon holds a special place in history as the longest-running event of its kind in the world. For more than a century, amateurs and professional athletes alike have been taking to the streets of Boston to pound the 26-mile course through the Massachusetts capital in a race traditionally held on the third Monday of April to mark Patriots' Day, the anniversary of the first battles in the American Civil War.
But on April 15th 2013 the annual event took on a new and tragic historical significance when two homemade pressure-cooker bombs were detonated near the Marathon's finish line on Boylston Street, killing three people and injuring several hundred others. The resulting investigation led to a police manhunt for suspects Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, two Chechen-American brothers who, according to a note found by police and written by Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, were motivated by their belief in in a extremist Islamic doctrine and carried out the attack as “revenge” for a series of U.S.-led military operation in the Middle East.
It is both this tragic event itself and the resulting aftermath and police manhunt that form the basis for Patriots Day, a film partly based on an account of the Boston Marathon written by author Casey Sherman and Boston-based journalist Dave Wedge. After opening in cinemas last year, the film arrives in stores on DVD and Blu-ray this week. Here's everything you need to know as well as an exclusive interview with the cast and crew at the bottom of the page..
Who's in it?
Mark Wahlberg leads a cast that includes Michelle Monaghan, J.K. Simmons, Kevin Bacon and John Goodman.
And who is directing?
Peter Berg is the man behind the lens on this one, a director with plenty of previous form in creating dramatic adaptations of real-life events, including Deepwater Horizon and Lone Survivor. Berg himself also worked on the screenplay, along with Triple 9 writer Matt Cook and Joshua Zetumer, whose credits include the 2014 Robocop reboot and the upcoming X-men spin-off Gambit.
What's the plot?
The story largely follows the events of April 15th from the perspective of Boston Police Sergeant Tommy Saunders (Wahlberg) – a fictional composite of several members of the Boston Police Department and, along with his wife Carol (played by Michelle Monaghan), one of the only fictional characters in a film that largely depicts the real people involved in the event and its aftermath.
Saunders and his colleagues are stationed near the finish line on race day, taking care of general security and crowd control, when the first bomb detonates. Twelve seconds later, a second explosion is heard and Saunders quickly realises what is happening, rushing to help the victims, including a young couple suffering from severe injuries and a father who has been separated from his son.
Senior Boston Police personnel and an FBI team arrive on the scene, determining that the latter should take control of the investigation when they find debris from the homemade bomb and determine that the incident was a deliberate act of terrorism. Two suspects are quickly identified, however the Boston PD and FBI initially disagree on whether to release pictures of the Tsarnaev brothers to the press. A subsequent leak settles the argument and a city-wide manhunt begins.
Meanwhile, the Tsarnaev's carjack a man named Dun Meng and reveal plans to execute a second bombing in New York. However, Meng is able to escape from his own vehicle while the brothers are distracted and calls the police from a nearby store, giving them his GPS tracking code which enables the police to pursue the suspects. Tracking the brothers to the Watertown suburb of Boston, a shootout ensues between the suspects and police, during which Tamerlan is killed. Dzokhar manages to escape, only to be tracked down to a boat moored in Boston's harbour, where he is finally arrested.
Does it deliver?
Patriots Day tackles a difficult subject with skill and sensitivity, especially with regard to the plight of the victims and the bombers' motives, but where this film really succeeds is in detailing the sense of solidarity amongst the police and the public who came to the aid of the victims in the immediate aftermath of the explosions. Commercially speaking, the film didn't perform quite as well as hoped at the box office – perhaps an understandable result given the relatively short timespan between the bombing and the film's release – but don't let the numbers put you off. A lot of care has gone into getting the tone and depiction of events exactly right; Wahlberg, a Bostonian himself, was especially instrumental in this, and while Peter Berg does have previous form in this kind of thing, that doesn't make a task like this any easier and the director deserves credit for this well-measured handling of a tragic story. It's a difficult watch at times, of course, but an admirable account of a terrible event nonetheless.