Mark Wahlberg and Peter Berg continue a prolific collaboration, following “Lone Survivor” and “Deepwater Horizon,” on a devoted mission to make Wahlberg an icon of working-class rectitude, with dashes of khaki and blue. Berg’s a good director of strong, skittery action scenes, and “Patriots Day” unfolds at high velocity, yet the fictionalized, dramatically enhanced account of the police investigation after the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing offends when it doesn’t merely rankle. Rights are wrong and corner-cutting cops are great. (And as with most movies situated in that city, even true Boston accents sound like lousy Boston accents.) In the onrushing fray, there’s no time to question the dubious choices made by law enforcement, including the execution of martial law. And Wahlberg’s police sergeant is a superhero in his ability to be in every single location that matters in the story. It’s a teenage boy’s savior fantasy: if only I am always fortuitously in the right place at the right time, I will be the greatest hero my friends and family and my town has ever known! (Or maybe he’s just the twenty-first-century Zelig or Forrest Gump.) A viewer with even a cursory knowledge of the events could take offense beginning with that doleful miscalculation. Or, in the Twitter words of Donald Trump, “Only I can fix.” Wahlberg’s character sums up the overt message of “Patriots Day”: “What I saw today? Good versus evil, love versus hate. There’s only one weapon you have to fight back with, it’s love. You wrap your arms around each other, I don’t think there’s a way they could ever win.” With Kevin Bacon, John Goodman, J.K. Simmons, Michelle Monaghan. 133m. (Ray Pride)
“Patriots Day” opens Friday, January 13.
Ray Pride is Newcity’s film critic and a contributing editor to Filmmaker magazine.
His history of Chicago “Ghost Signs” in words and images will be published in Spring 2022.