Peter Berg is a conservative movie goer’s best friend.
Berg, the director of “Lone Survivor,” “Deepwater Horizon” and now “Patriots Day,” understands what makes America tick. He appreciates the blue collar workers who keep the nation chugging along. Berg’s movies salute them without irony or disdain.
That doesn’t mean he’s a conservative.
He fought hard against the Romney/Ryan ticket four-plus years ago when it used an inspirational quote from his “Friday Night Lights” TV show. You probably won’t see Berg on Inauguration Day wearing a red “Make America Great Again” hat.
Yet conservatives should applaud his vision all the same. There’s simply no one else doing what he does in the industry.
Which brings us to “Patriots Day.” The story recalls the horror of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing which killed three people and left dozens severely wounded. Mark Wahlberg, Berg’s Everyman muse, stars as a Boston cop on patrol during that horrific Spring day.
It’s truly an ensemble film, though, gathering a terrific cast (John Goodman, Kevin Bacon, Michelle Monaghan) to show how a major city responded to the inhumane attack.
Here are five reasons every right-leaning movie goers should see “Patriots Day” ASAP.
- It’s Not Propaganda: Critics love to smear any film with pro-American themes with this ugly word. “Patriots Day” doesn’t fit the description. The story lacks pointless sloganeering, the kind meant for an easy audience cheer. The questionable tactic of shutting Boston down to catch the terrorists is handled in a straightforward fashion. No judgment here. Audiences can make up their own minds. Heroism speaks for itself.
- The Terrorists Are … Terrorists: Whenever Hollywood deals with Islamic terrorism there’s blowback from select liberals and Muslim groups. See “The Siege” for one early example. That leaves Hollywood scribes uneasy with speaking plain truths. The vast majority of terrorists today are radical Muslims. To deny that is silly. “Patriots Day” doesn’t ignore that fact. The brothers who bombed the marathon aren’t given their unique humanity. We don’t get to feel their pain. They plot the attack, carry it out and then flee for their cowardly lives. Berg has little appetite for pearl clutching.
- Boston Strong: You don’t have to have a wicked smah-t accent to appreciate the Beantown heroes presented here. Yes, Wahlberg’s character is a composite, but he represents cops who did all they could to minimize the suffering that day. Boston law enforcement members risked their lives to hunt down the brothers behind the attack.
- Send a Message: Consumers told Hollywood late last year they had no interest in a message movie about gun control. “Miss Sloane” proved one of 2016’s biggest flops. The reverse holds true, too. Should “Patriots Day” sink at the box office, studios will be less eager to tell these kind of heroic, all-American tales.
- It’s Bravura Filmmaking. Period: Berg isn’t just an artist who appreciates flyover country. He’s uniquely skilled in bringing real-life stories to the big screen. His approach here is to create a quasi-documentary atmosphere to ratchet up the tension. It works. And the final sequences, where law enforcement pursue the bombers, is flat out terrific storytelling. We read the headlines, so the timeline is still familiar to us three years later. It’s gripping all the same.