Release Date(s)2016 (March 28, 2017)
Studio(s)Closest to the Hole/Bluegrass/CBS Films (Lionsgate)
- Film/Program Grade: B
- Video Grade: B+
- Audio Grade: A
- Extras Grade: B+
Based on the actual events, Patriots Day tells the story of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, first depicting the tragic happenings of April 15th and then the aftermath, as the city of Boston came together to fight back and heal. It’s directed with workmanlike efficiency by Peter Berg (Lone Survivor, Deepwater Horizon) and I don’t know that there’s another filmmaker more uniquely suited to the task of getting things right. Maybe Paul Greengrass could do it too, but Berg has made a fine career of telling stories on the big screen that are either based on real events or motivated by them and he does another good job here.
Highlighting the cast are Mark Wahlberg as Police Sergeant Tommy Saunders, Michelle Monaghan as his wife Carol, John Goodman as Boston’s Police Commissioner, J.K. Simmons as Watertown Police Sergeant Jeffrey Pugliese, and Kevin Bacon as FBI SAC Richard DesLauriers, among others. Wahlberg’s character is a composite of several real-life individuals, and some critics have taken issue with this (and Wahlberg’s performance), but the film seems otherwise to be a fairly straightforward and accurate investigative procedural. It’s worth noting most of the real people depicted on screen approved and supported the production. The resulting film is certainly gripping from beginning to end. Having watched the actual events play out on 24-hour cable news in real time, broadcasts that were mostly filled with speculation and confusion, it’s genuinely interesting to get an inside perspective on what was really going on just a few short years later.
Like most films now, Patriots Day was shot digitally, in this case using ARRI Alexa XT cameras in ARRIRAW Open Gate format (3.4K) at 1.55:1. It was finished as a 2K Digital Intermediate in 2.39:1 widescreen, given an HDR color timing pass, and upsampled for this release. The image quality is quite good overall. This is meant to be a gritty, reality-based story; the camera is handled in an almost documentary style and actual TV news and security camera footage (of lower resolution) is mixed in here and there. Detail is solid, with nice fine texturing. Blacks are deep. The colors are slightly muted but wonderfully nuanced, with lots of different subtle hues and shadings. The HDR itself is restrained, really only calling attention to itself in things like flashing emergency vehicle lights, but the range of contrast in the image, from the brightest to the darkest areas, is pleasing and natural. Primary audio is included on the 4K disc in English DTS:X format (Spanish and French 5.1 Dolby Digital mixes are also included, as is an English 2.0 Dolby Digital mix optimized for late night viewing, while available subs include English SDH, French SDH, and Spanish). The DTS:X mix is highly atmospheric, with lots of soft little audio cues coming from all around even in the most quiet moments. Panning is smooth and natural. At the start of the Marathon itself, you can hear the sound of helicopters flying overhead. During the film’s epic gunfight there’s activity from seemingly every direction. Dynamic range is good too, not in just the obvious moments, and the score fills in at just the right moments. This is a flat-out great surround sound mix and it’s perfect for this film.
Both the 4K disc itself, and the included Blu-ray (that offers the film in 1080p HD) offer the following extras, in HD on the Blu-ray and it appears in full 4K on UHD (with some SD news footage mixed in):
- The Boston Strong: True Stories of Courage (3 segments – 21:34 in all)
- The Boston Bond: Recounting the Tale (21:43)
- The Real Patriots: The Local Heroes’ Stories (19:48)
- The Cast Remembers (5:51)
- Actors Meet Real-Life Counterparts: A 2-part Series (18:13 in all)
- Researching the Day (11:22)
The extras are terrific, in that they illustrate not only the real events depicted in the film, but also the real people who were directly involved or impacted – runners, doctors, police officers, government officials, various citizens, etc. I’m as impressed as can be by the actual Dun Meng and Sergeant Pugliese, let me tell you. The three True Stories of Courage pieces are real standouts, as are The Real Patriots: The Local Heroes’ Stories and Researching the Day. Frankly, all of this material is engaging and well worth your time. This is the rare special edition package these days that delivers exactly what you’d want from the experience. Note that the package also includes a code for a Digital HD version on a paper insert.
Patriots Day is a solid film. It’s no-nonsense, no frills, dramatic storytelling. The real details of the Boston Marathon bombing need no embellishment, and director Peter Berg has added very little of it, telling the story of these events, and these people, well indeed. I’m sure there are strong opinions about Patriots Day, given the subject matter and all of the many understandable sensitivities at play. Speaking for myself, though, I really enjoyed this film and particularly appreciated the chance to learn more about the real people involved, both in the film itself and in these extras. Recommended.
- Bill Hunt