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Patriots Day is a film that could easily have gone south; it’s a very recent event, and even though it’s an inspiring story, the film runs the risk of feeling like capitalizing off a real life tragedy. Perhaps the film wanted to tell the story of these real people, but the film isn’t neccessarily a stickler for accuracy, with Mark Wahlberg’s character being a fictionalization. But what makes Patriots Day work is the message; this is a film that deals with recovering for tragedy and the power of community.

Tommy Saunders (Mark Wahlberg) is a Boston Police Officer who’s caught within the 2013 Boston Marathon Bombings, and works with Commissioner Ed Davis (John Goodman) and FBI Special Agent Richard DesLauriers (Kevin Bacon) to catch the bombers. While Wahlberg’s tribute to the real life heroes is the rock center of the film, it’s very much an ensemble piece that combines several intersecting storylines. It’s an impressive way to break down the scope of such an event, and getting such an interesting and diverse group of characters to realize the emotional affect is an effective method.

In addition, director Peter Berg creates a relentless thriller that creates for some of the most jaw dropping action pieces of the year. The manhunt element is endlessly compelling, and it’s Berg’s procedural and intricate, documentary style thriller style that makes the film so effective. It’s a touching tribute to heroism and sacrifice, surprisingly proving to be inspiring in the face of tragedy. Grade: A