Sunday, June 25, 2017

Boston Strong

Patriots Day
Director: Peter Berg
Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Kevin Bacon, John Goodman, Michelle Monaghan, J.K. Simmons, Melissa Benoist
Released: December 21, 2016


This movie is based on the April 2013 Boston Marathon bombings, which I'm sure everyone remembers as it only happened a mere four years ago. I thought I remembered everything about this incident, but apparently not because there were things in the movie that I found myself going, "Wait, I thought it happened this way!" or "Wait, I don't remember that happening!" But I'll get to those later. Mark Wahlberg (a native Bostonian as you all know) does not play a real person, but his police officer character, Sergeant Tommy Sanders is suppose to represent the everyman Boston police officer during this tragic event.

Everyone else, to my knowledge portray real-life people. Before the day of the Marathon we are shown the home lives of a few different characters. Even though they tell us the last name of the family/person we're viewing, I didn't know who any of these people were. I didn't remember the names of the terrorist brothers, but once I saw the title card say, "Tsarnaev residence", I knew it was them because I remember them being Russian and sure enough we see them along with the older brother's wife (played by Melissa Benoist...who I did not recognize until the interrogation scene because she wears a hijab and that was the first time the camera lingers on her. I guess I forgot that the wife was American). We see a young married couple and a young Chinese man who's attending MIT and showing his parents his new car via his phone. I had no idea who these people were and thought maybe they were victims of the bombing. Well, they were victims, but they weren't the ones who were killed by the bomb like I had thought. I had to remind myself who died because I only remembered the police officer, who wasn't killed by the bomb, but who was killed the following night by one of the brothers, and an eight year old boy died from the blast. Two other young women also died from the blast. Except for the police officer, there is no mention of the deceased by name and they don't have anyone playing them which I thought was a smart choice. The only mention of the deceased is when the young boy who died is covered by a table cloth from a restaurant and they are unable to remove him until they are sure there isn't any bomb residue on him. I'm sure this happened in real life (otherwise why would it be in the movie?) and I can't imagine being the parents of that boy who took him to see the Boston Marathon, but weren't able to take him home because two low-lives (one who has a young daughter!) took his life.

For two bombs going off, it is very fortunate that not more lives were lost that day. The majority of the devastation came from injuries, the severest being lost of limbs. The couple that is shown the night before the Marathon are actors playing a real life couple who both run the race every year and had to have their legs amputated. Saunders is near the finish line when both bombs go off (which were only 13 seconds apart...a fact I did not know) and his wife is also there because she had come down to bring him something. He will feel very guilty for putting her in harm's way, but she tells him it wasn't his fault. During all the commotion, the race is (surprisingly) still going on and runners are running into the confusion and they have to block the area.

John Goodman plays Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis and Kevin Bacon plays Richard DesLauriers, special agent in the Boston field and both head the investigation to find out what happened. You get a glimpse of what happened behind the scenes. It seemed to happen really fast because the bombing happened on a Monday and by Friday the older brother was killed and the younger one was caught. But we see the process of trying to find out who set off the bombs is a painstakingly slow as several people are scouring over security footage (and they used real footage) of every angle from where the bomb went off. Someone alerts the two men in charge when he sees footage of a young man in a white hat looking away from the camera (as though he knows a bomb is about to off) a second before everyone else does. They try to find other angles where they can see "White Hat" and Saunders tells them which business security camera to look up and they find a few more angles of him as well as him standing next to someone wearing sunglasses and a black hat and holding a backpack (the older brother) who they assume are together and are the bombers. Even though they have clear photos, they can't find them in the criminal database as they have no records. Now what I didn't know is that the FBI agent did NOT want to release the photos of the suspects because if they were wrong and they weren't involved, they would be raked over the coals by the public. He wanted more evidence that these were the bombers. They just wanted a little more time to figure out, but then it turned out FOX News (of course it was FOX!) got a hold of the photos and were going to release them in a few hours, so they decided they would go ahead and release them before the media did so they could get them out there their way.

The only person shown being killed is Officer Sean Collier. Like the other characters the day before the bomb happened, we also get a glimpse into his life. I remember a police officer being killed by the suspected bombers, but I guess I thought it was from a shoot out. I didn't remember that he was sitting in his car in front of MIT and the younger brother came up to his car and motioned for him to roll down his window and when he did, he shot him and stole his gun. That's scary. The thing that shocked me the most from watching this was what happened next because I did not remember this AT ALL. In fact, I don't think I even knew about this until I watched the movie. This is when the young Chinese student comes into play. We see him in an earlier scene having dinner with a new friend and he's telling her what it's like living in a new country. I was wondering what he had to do with this story and this is when we find out. He's sitting in his car, looking at his phone, when the older brother comes up to his window and motions for him to roll it down. Both brothers hijack the car with their new gun and make Dun Meng, the young Chinese man drive them. This seems like a big part of the story, was it even in the news? How could I not know this happened? They make him get out of the driver's seat and into the passenger seat so the older brother can drive. As they're driving, they tell him that they bombed the Marathon and are planning to go to Manhattan and bomb Times Square. They also talked about 9/11 being an inside job by the government (now I love a good conspiracy theory as much as the next person...I am all about the JFK and TWA 800 conspiracies....but the 9/11 one, I never got that one).

Speaking of 9/11, we get a comment from a news reporter saying that the bombing is the worst act of terrorism in the U.S. since 9/11 and I'm thinking, "What?" Because it seems like that's a pretty big gap between 2001 and 2013, but then I realized all the 40 million shootings in those years weren't linked to terrorism groups...we just have a bunch of idiots who live in this country. Before the race begins, there is a moment of silence for the victims of the Newtown, CT school shooting and I had to remind myself that had only happened four months prior and in just a few short hours they would have their own tragedy. I've seen the Boston Marathon bombing be compared to 9/11 on a few occasions and aside from the terrorism aspect and when they shut down the city of Boston that day (like when they shut down all the airports), I've never really understood that. I was reminded more of the Oklahoma City bombing. I am always amazed at the amount of people who refer to 9/11 as a "bombing". There were no bombs involved in 9/11! Let me tell you a true story....the week after 9/11 happened, my school had a banner saying something along the lines to donate blood or money for the victims of the 9/11 bombing. And I see it and I'm thinking, Huh...I don't remember any bombs being reported. Anyway, I'm getting way off topic...

The brothers stop at gas station for snacks and this is when Dun Meng makes his escape. He has already pleaded to be let go and they can have his money and car and he promises he won't tell anyone, but the brothers refuse. You know that since they have already told him who they are and what they plan to do, that they have no plans to keep him alive once they don't need him anymore and you know he knows this. While the younger brother is getting snacks, the older brother has the gun in the side pocket of the car and is looking out the window. We see Dung Meng getting ready to escape. Now I just thought he had to open the door and that was it, but he also had his seatbelt on, so that gave the bomber notice that his abductee was getting ready to leave, but luckily Meng manages to escape and runs to a gas station across the street and screams at the manager to call the police. When the police arrive, Meng tells them he was abducted by the two brothers who were involved in the Boston Marathon bombing and his phone is still in the car an they are able to track them down. Saunders tells Meng that he was very brave to do what he did and I have to agree...if I had done that, I would have over thought it and would end up dead. Meng was just sitting in his car playing with his phone when he was hijacked and I told myself that I would NEVER just sit alone in my car while on my phone. Well, just a couple days after I saw this, I found myself in a parking lot with my phone trying to locate a place I was looking for. Now it was broad daylight, but I still locked my car! So starting now I will NEVER sit in my car, night or day, and look at my phone!

When  the police locate the bothers, they have a big shootout and many bombs are involved so right there the police knew that they had plans to bomb other places. This is when the older brother is killed, which I remembered. What I don't remember is that the younger brother ran over him with the car! He was aiming at the police who had gotten a hold of the older brother, but jumped out of the way when the car came towards them. He gets away and the next day is devoted to looking for him which I remember, especially since I watched it on TV when they had located him in the boat. That would be so scary to be the guy who owns the boat and find the one person everybody in the city is looking for is hiding in your boat! In the film, the owner of the boat notices something wrong with his boat and calls the police, but I watched a documentary about this whole ordeal and they interviewed the guy and he said that he actually went up to his boat and saw the kid (I think he was sleeping?) and then called the police, but in the movie, it's Saunders who discovers him.

We all know how the story ends and the perpetrator is caught. The movie ends with the real footage of David Ortiz giving his speech at the April 20, 2013 Red Sox game against the Royals and we see the Mayor of Boston, Ed Davis, and other people who helped make Boston safe. Then we see clips of the real life couple who lost their legs talking as well as a father and son who were separated (who were also featured in the movie). I really didn't think it was necessary to have these talking heads in there because it felt like I was watching a documentary and an entire new movie was starting. This should have been in the special features portion of the DVD. And believe me, there are TONS of documentaries on the Boston Marathon bombing to watch if you want to find out the many stories that come from it. I think having the baseball speech was the perfect place to end it, as well as have the in memoriam photos of the four people who lost their lives. 

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