On April 15, 2013, during the Boston Marathon, two home-made bombs exploded killing three people and quickly reminding Americans that everyone is a target in this age of terrorism. There was no strategic reason for the attack; there was nothing gained. It simply created a lot of carnage and casualties.


It also unified the city of Boston and generated an unprecedented lockdown of the city as the FBI and Boston Police laid out a dragnet that left the streets desolate during a house-by-house search of the city. The shelter-in-place lockdown was at the request of the governor, Deval Patrick.


Director Peter Berg, who also directed "Lone Survivor", "Battleship", "Hancock", and "Deepwater Horizon" helms this film re-enactment of the bombing events. The script, also by Berg, was derived from the accounts of Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis (played in the film by John Goodman) and that is the single biggest problem with the film - it merely gives an account of the events.

Most of the characters are real except for Mark Wahlberg's character, BPD Sergeant Tommy Saunders who may be a composite of several officers; but we don't know. The film opens with him being assigned to the Boston Marathon as punishment for some sort of work related transgression. Everyone seems to know about his punishment, including the commissioner; the audience is left to wonder.


The film then moves over to the apartment of brothers Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev (Alex Wolf and Themo Melikidze respectively) as they prepare the bombs for the attack. In the background with them is Tamrlan's girlfriend Katherine Russell (Melissa Benoist) and their daughter.


Berg does a great job placing various victims at the two sites where the explosions occur and we actually learn more about them than we really need as they take their places in the crowd at the finish line. After the explosion, Berg recalls the tension just as he did in "Deepwater Horizon" which also starred Wahlberg.

That scene of chaos works very well, though Wahlberg comes off as a little too calm and organized. It illustrates the shock of the spectators as well as the city of Boston; Berg lays on a heavy dose of body parts and blood.


Then, much like an police procedural, the film illustrates the transfer of investigative jurisdiction from the Boston Police Department to the FBI, the involvement of the commissioner and governor and the various steps taken to trace the movement of the suspects. Kevin Bacon plays FBI agent Richard DesLauriers [who may be another composite character] who makes the tough decision to take over the case from the police. Again, we know little about the character other than he exists (in the film at least), but no back ground whatsoever.


The people who are real are Commissioner Davis and Watertown police Sgt Jeffrey Pugliese (J.K. Simmons) who captures the first terrorist. In both cases we know very little about them other than Pugliese lamenting his age. Berg adds nothing that illustrates whatever emotions these two real characters might have had other than the bombing was another job. Berg focuses so much on the heroic acts but not on the heroes therefore leaving two dimensional characters that are difficult to become emotionally engaged.


The characters that are developed - the MIT security guard killed and the Chinese National whose care is hijacked - are much more interesting and as you watch their outcomes, you become more involved; more interested. It is a shame Berg decided to remove the personal edge from the film, it deserved more attention.


The acting is only as good as the character development. We miss Goodman's "Big John" persona and Wahlberg's tough Mark persona. Bacon strains to make himself interesting; all are doomed by the lack of a thorough script.


"Patriot's Day" does a decent job of replaying the events that occurred over the several days following the Boston Marathon bombing, but contributes little more. We see the heroes in action but end up know little about them.   -- GEOFF BURTON