April 15, 2013, is a date that will live in infamy and remembered for the community of Boston and surrounding cities for their courage and bravery when faced with a tragic act of violence. Director Peter Berg collaborates wit Mark Wahlberg for the third time, the first two being Lone Survivor and Deepwater Horizon, creating the atmosphere that puts us in Boston during those terrifying days. Berg’s direction is on-point and the realism in this film gives us and excellent vantage point of the tragic Boston Marathon bombing and the events that unfolded shortly thereafter.
Wahlberg portrays Police Sgt. Tommy Saunders, recently on suspension and tasked at the finish line at the Boston Marathon. He suffers from a knee problem with which his wife (Michelle Monaghan) arrives at the finish line with another knee brace for him when suddenly disaster strikes. A bomb is detonated in a large crowd of people. People are screaming in severe pain, people are fleeing from the finish line and cops along with marathon runners are running to assist the injured. The images during this scene are grisly to say the least. The moment the bomb exploded made me jump in my seat as it was terrifying and surreal. Peter Berg literally puts us at the finish line, I felt that I was there myself.
Prior to all of this we see the terrorists themselves as they are preparing for their mission. Alex Wolff (Coming Through the Rye) and newcomer Themo Melikidze each give very compelling performances as Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev. They know what they are going to do and show no emotion for their actions. From planting the explosives at the finish line to carjacking and holding an innocent man hostage to a gruesome shootout with officers, both actors give scary performances portraying the real-life perpetrators. Additionally, we are introduced to real-life officers that were involved in this terrifying ordeal that lasted several days.
First, we have John Goodman as Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis. He too is shocked by the event and wants action taken immediately. Kevin Bacon is Richard DesLauriers, the Special Agent in the FBI Boston Field Office. He investigates the crime scene and even recreates it in a warehouse turned into the FBI Command Center. Vincent Curatola is Thomas Menino, Mayor of Boston. And finally, we have Michael Beach as Deval Patrick, Governor of Massachusetts who shuts down Boston and Watertown forcing all residents to remain indoors while the suspects are being pursued and searched for.
What makes this film so interesting is how Peter Berg has set up the film. We are introduced to a young police officer played by Jack Picking who asks a girl to attend a concert and later plays a very important part in the film. A young married couple (Rachel Brosnahan and Christopher O’Shea) who attend the marathon at the finish line only to have their lives changed forever. We also have Jimmy O. Yang who is Dun Meng, the young man who was held hostage after he was carjacked. At first I wasn’t sure who these characters were or how they were going to involved in the event, but I was surprised by all that happened. A lot of introductions are made throughout the film which at first made me a little confused but as the film progressed, I came to understand why Berg did this. We were introduced to these characters prior to the life-changing event so that we can know who they are before all the chaos ensues.
Now there is the question as to Tommy Saunders who is a fictitious character. Personally, I enjoyed his character. His emotions run high when the bomb explodes, seeing the injured people who are so horribly maimed, and wants a piece of the suspects. This attack was not just an attack on the city of Boston, it was a personal attack to the people of this country and we see just how much law enforcement wants to find these suspects and give something back to the people. One scene struck me when they have several pictures of the suspects but the FBI isn’t ready to release the photos to the press. Goodman’s Davis is furious and wants action taken immediately. Nobody wants to sit around while the suspects run free and have a chance to do further harm elsewhere.
Even the shootout scene in Watertown is heart-wrenching. Seeing the officers exchange gunfire with the suspects while bombs are being thrown is something that is filmed so well that emotions are expected to hit us with great force. It’s exciting and emotionally cathartic to see a film regarding a tragic event handled so well and professionally so as to the audience can feel the emotions that the officers and the people of Boston were facing. Even one scene when a father can’t find his son is very upsetting because they are separated because area hospitals are becoming overrun with injuries.
Verdict: 5 out of 5
Three people lost their lives at the bombing site as well as a police officer who was basically assassinated and another officer who later died from an explosion during the intense shootout. These sequences are shown to us and we feel the pain and loss. We are there during those days while the manhunt was underway because every scene in this film feels so real and authentic, it can be quite upsetting at times. The attention to detail in this film is exacting excellent. As a filmmaker, Berg has really topped himself here. This is a film that respects the loss of life during this tragedy, but also embraces the bravery of the men and women who saved countless lives, and who wouldn’t give up in the hunt to find the suspects responsible for their act of cowardice violence. Wahlberg gives a fantastic performance almost on-par with his The Departed role. This is a film that people should see, it’s important to our history, and it showcases the bravery of a community who reacted to a devastating event with incredible strength.