Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB.5. USA, 2016. Bluegrass Films, CBS Films, Closest To The Hole Productions, Hutch Parker Entertainment, TIK Films. Story by Peter Berg, Matt Cook, Paul Tamasy, Eric Johnson, Screenplay by Peter Berg, Matt Cook, Joshua Zetumer. Cinematography by Tobias A. Schliessler. Produced by Dorothy Aufiero, Dylan Clark, Stephen Levinson, Hutch Parker, Michael Radutzky, Scott Stuber, Mark Wahlberg. Music by Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross. Production Design by Tom Duffield. Costume Design by Virginia Johnson. Film Editing by Gabriel Fleming, Colby Parker Jr.. National Board of Review Awards 2016.
The bombing of the 2013 Boston Marathon is the subject of this action drama starring Mark Wahlberg as the police officer at the centre of the action. Recovering from a knee injury and already stressed out by the requirements of the day, Wahlberg is stationed near the finish line when, a couple of hours into the race, two bombs go off and kill a number of people and seriously injure many more. The film follows a wide variety of characters throughout the events and its aftermath, including a couple who lose limbs in the explosion, a Watertown police office involved in a neighbourhood shootout, a young cop killed in a skirmish with the culprits, the owner of the car that the bombers stole for the getaway (and for a time held him hostage in) and, of course, the Tsarnaev brothers themselves, who orchestrated the entire thing using homemade pressure cooker bombs. A number of well executed sequences, particularly the effective capturing of the madness of the marathon following the explosions, are let down by a general lack of tension and a lot of TV-movie-quality acting and writing. I could handle pumped up gun fights that smell of more than a little Blue Lives Matter propaganda if it wasn’t for the fact that a great deal of the human interaction is cheesy and, sometimes, laughable. The inclusion of Wahlberg’s fictional character is meant to unify the other strands of plot based on real people (the way the couple at the centre of Titanic did, for example), but he is only peripherally involved in most of what happens (by the last third he’s mainly just getting in the way and yelling at everyone). Having a concluding afterword that gives us interviews with the real people involved is the most moving part of the experience, but it only makes what came before it that much less impressive.