Hot on the heels of the excellent Deepwater Horizon comes another true-life thriller from director Peter Berg and actor/producer Mark Wahlberg. This time around the focus is the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing and the subsequent manhunt for the two perpetrators of the incident.
Wahlberg plays Tommy Saunders, a fictional sergeant in the Boston Police Department who is stationed at the finish line when the bombs explode. Saunders goes on to witness all of the key events in the ensuing search for the suspects led by FBI Special Agent Richard DesLauriers (Kevin Bacon) and local Police Commissioner Ed Davis (John Goodman). Patriots Day also centres around a few of those caught up in the bombing, most notably young couple Jessica Kensky (Rachel Brosnahan) and Patrick Downes (Christopher O'Shea).
By creating the character of Tommy Saunders, Berg and Wahlberg give viewers a specific human focus for every aspect of the story. Yet this composite character also serves as a stand-in for every single cop who was involved in the events depicted, which leads to an unbelievable string of coincidences – Saunders is on the scene when the bombing takes place, is the one cop who can tell the FBI which buildings in the vicinity have CCTV, takes the statement of carjacking victim Dun Meng (Jimmy O. Yang) and later pops up at the final hiding place of the second bomber. He's a busy man.
The film closes with interviews with some of the real people caught up in the bombing tragedy. As polished as Patriots Day's fictionalised approach may be, perhaps its story would have been better told as a documentary.
Picture: Patriots Day runs onto Blu-ray with a largely appealing 2.40:1-framed 1080p encode that shows every sign of having been shot using digital cameras. Daylight scenes pop with colour and detail, while night shots conjure up deep, murky shadows. The only real negatives when it comes to image quality derive from the archival CCTV and broadcast TV material the film re-uses.
Picture rating: 4.5/5
Audio: Deepwater Horizon boasted a thrill-a-minute Dolby Atmos mix; this Blu-ray's DTS:X soundtrack is a little more everyday but still impressive – adept at delivering low-key atmospherics (such as the construction of the stands in preparation for the marathon in Chapter 2) and meeting the demands of more action-filled sequences (a chaotic street shoot-out in Chapter 11). Dialogue is always discernible, while the excellent Trent Reznor/Atticus Ross score is given plenty of prominence.
A Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack 'optimized for late night listening' and a DTS:X Headphone soundtrack are also included.
Audio rating: 4.5/5
Extras: The seven featurettes split their focus between real-life interviews and the recreation of key events: Boston Strong: True Stories of Courage (22 minutes); The Boston Bond: Recounting the Tale (22 minutes); The Real Patriots: The Local Heroes' Stories (20 minutes); The Cast Remembers (six minutes); Actors Meet Real-Life Counterparts – John Goodman and Ed Davis (eight minutes); Actors Meet Real-Life Counterparts - Jimmy O. Yang and Dun Meng (10 minutes); and Researching the Day (11 minutes). Not bad, but a chat-track would have been nice, too.
Extras rating: 2.5/5
We say: The film itself may not be 'Boston Strong', but this Blu-ray has plenty of other strengths.
Patriots Day, Lionsgate, Region B BD, £25
HCC VERDICT: 3.5/5
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