This faithfully compelling re-telling of a recent terrorist attack in the States is arguably director Peter Berg’s best work yet.
After a hit and miss early career which saw him helming critically-maligned efforts such as Battleship and Hancock, his third successive team-up with Mark Wahlberg – after Lone Survivor and Deepwater Horizon – sees him complete his unofficial trilogy of salutes to American heroism.
This time it’s another more recent biographical event (the previous two were set in 2005 and 2010) with the story of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing – where homemade devices killed several civilians and maimed dozens more – and the aftermath, which included the city-wide manhunt for the terrorist Tsarneav brothers responsible.
Wahlberg stars as a returning-from-suspension police sergeant, Tommy Saunders, who is pulling security duty at the marathon finishing line on the final day of his punishment overseen by his affable boss, Commissioner Ed Davis (John Goodman).
Through several intertwining stories we see the before-and-after of the horrific attack with some of the victims, families and heroic participants of the incident – like Tommy’s wife Carol (M:I-III’s Michelle Monaghan), district police sergeant Jeffrey Pugliese (Whiplash’s Oscar winner JK Simmons), young officer Sean Collier (Jake Picking) and unwitting Chinese entrepreneur Dun Meng (Jimmy O Yang) – and how they integrate after the dramatic event takes place.
With the investigation headed by Kevin Bacon’s FBI Special Agent Richard DesLauriers after the double explosion rocks the city, the main sub-story centres on the attempted escape of Dzhokhar (Alex Wolff) and Tamerlan (Themo Melikidze) Tsarneav – aided by Dzhokhar’s now devout-Muslim wife Katherine Russell (Melissa Benoist from TV’s Supergirl) – as the city’s elite close in.
And for the most part it unfolds in an extremely watchable, intense and enthralling fashion – with less gung-ho pro American bias than you might think – and despite being sentimental at times (especially with the terrific real-life montage during the finale) it never strays into exploitative thriller territory by staying loyal to its material.
It’s solidly-crafted, no frills, action fare – and probably won’t mean as much to us this side of the pond (on a personal level it unfolded during my vacation to Las Vegas so it dominated the news and therefore meant something a bit more viscerally to me) – but does provide a stirring, and sometimes emotive, patriotic tribute to the heroes of a real-life American tragedy that united a city.
Gavin Miller[youtube id=”ykwSo64RYao” width=”600″ height=”350″]
CAST: MARK WAHLBERG, KEVIN BACON, JOHN GOODMAN, JK SIMMONS, MICHELLE MONAGHAN, ALEX WOLFF, THEMO MELIKIDZE, MELISSA BENOIST, JIMMY O YANG, JAKE PICKING, CHRISTOPHER O’SHEA, RACHEL BROSNAHAN, LANA CONDOR, JAMES COLBY & MICHAEL BEACH
RUNNING TIME: 2 HRS 13 MINS
DIRECTOR: PETER BERG
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