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Patriots Day: Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD Review

Patriots Day (2016) movie poster Patriots Day

Theatrical Release: December 21, 2016 / Running Time: 133 Minutes / Rating: R

Director: Peter Berg / Writers: Peter Berg, Matt Cook (story & screenplay); Joshua Zetumer (screenplay); Paul Tamasy, Eric Johnson (story)

Cast: Mark Wahlberg (Tommy Saunders), Kevin Bacon (Special Agent Richard DesLauriers), John Goodman (Commissioner Ed Davis), J.K. Simmons (Sergeant Jeffrey Pugliese), Michelle Monaghan (Carol Saunders), Alex Wolff (Dzhokhar Tsarnaev), Themo Melikidze (Tamerlan Tsarnaev), James Colby (Superintendent Billy Evans), Michael Beach (Governor Deval Patrick), Rachel Brosnahan (Jessica Kensky), Christopher O'Shea (Patrick Downes), Jake Picking (Officer Sean Collier), Jimmy O. Yang (Dun Meng), Vincent Curatola (Mayor Thomas Menino), Melissa Benoist (Katherine Russell), Khandi Alexander (Interrogator), Adam Trese (John Bradshaw)

Buy Patriots Day from Amazon.com: Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD 4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray + Digital HD DVD Instant Video

For the second time in months and the third time in the past four years, actor Mark Wahlberg and director Peter Berg team up to tell a true story of modern day American heroism in the face of danger and tragedy. The first, 2013's Afghanistan war drama Lone Survivor, resonated with moviegoers and picked up a couple of sound Oscar nominations.
The second, last fall's BP oil spill drama Deepwater Horizon, grossed only half as much domestically but also picked up a couple of technical Oscar nominations. Following closely on its heels was Patriots Day, a dramatization of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing taking the same approach that Lone Survivor did, with a limited Christmas theatrical debut on the coasts before going wide two weeks later.

Patriots Day opens the night before the Marathon, as Boston police sergeant Tommy Saunders (Wahlberg) hurts his already injured knee breaking down a door to get to a suspect. Mere hours later, Tommy is at the finish line to patrol one of the nation's oldest and most popular races. Also making appearances is Boston police commissioner Ed Davis (a slimmed down and darkly-eyebrowed John Goodman). The film also gets us acquainted with individuals whose lives will be affected by what is to come. There is an attractive young married couple, a young Chinese immigrant (Jimmy O. Yang) with a new Mercedes who asks a girl out, and a young police officer who asks a different Asian girl out to a concert.

Fictional composite Boston police sergeant Tommy Saunders (Mark Wahlberg) is assigned to patrol the finish line of the Boston Marathon in "Patriots Day."

Of course, several hours into the race, those two bombs explode not far from the finish line. Saunders' wife (Michelle Monaghan) is nearby and traumatized but not seriously hurt. Others are not so fortunate. The movie focuses on the swift official response, as an FBI special agent (Kevin Bacon) arrives on scene and hesitates to declare it an act of terrorism while setting up a large control center complete with a model of the blocks comprising the scene of the crime. He and police scour through security camera footage and cell phone video to try to find their suspects. It's compelling stuff, which anyone following the initial coverage of the real incident, from the New York Post's wrong lead to the officially released photos, will remember.

From here, the film moves more to the two brothers responsible for this act: Muslim extremist Tamerlan (Themo Melikidze) and the younger, relatively easygoing Americanized Dzhokhar (Alex Wolff). True crime is an alluring genre and it renders this stretch of the film arresting. Berg and company have clearly done their research and show off as much with the use of real surveillance footage of the Tsarnaev brothers blending seamlessly with the well-cast actors portraying them.

Murder and carjackings give way to police response in the nearby city of Watertown, whose mustachioed police sergeant (J.K. Simmons) has been among the characters to whom we have been introduced. There is an action climax, which Berg is more than qualified to direct, followed by a finale that leans a bit heavily on the heroism angle, with copious looks at the real people being depicted here. (Wahlberg's lead, however, is a fictional composite.)

Boston Marathon terrorist Tamerlan Tsarnaev (Themo Melikidze) carjacks Chinese immigrant Dun Meng (Jimmy O. Yang) at gunpoint.

Patriots Day falls in line with Berg and Wahlberg's previous collaborations. It is well-made and well-intentioned. Some will see it as trying to hastily profit off of tragedy, an argument you cannot easily shoot down. But, though you can accuse it of being lurid and maybe too soon, you can't fault the movie for being manipulative or sensationalistic. Berg and his four other credited writers seem to be aiming for this what David Fincher did in Zodiac.
That was a decades-old mystery, though. This was an event that captured the attention of the nation and the world for one week not even four years ago. As a result, its specifics are probably familiar to most viewers, which easily calls into question the necessity of this film as a piece of storytelling.

The cast is uniformly good, from Wahlberg getting away with a scene of histrionics to veterans like Bacon and Simmons giving the film exactly the reliable workmanship it needs.

While most have found that movies are best enjoyed in a theater more full than empty, I wish I had first seen this one back at its original Thanksgiving Eve critics-only screening that ended up being cancelled. That showing would not have been marred by audience members laughing much too hard at the occasional tension-slicing moment, talking too much about what is going on, and cheering too hard for the heroes to catch the villains. Yes, this film is mainstream entertainment intended for the masses, but no, I don't think that stadium chatter is quite the audience response that Berg and company were looking for.

Commercially, Patriots Day contributed to the diminishing returns that Berg-Wahlberg collaborations have been experiencing. The film grossed just $32 million domestically and only $12 M from foreign markets. With a production budget of $45 M, it will remain unprofitable for the foreseeable future. But it is now available to own and rent, with Lionsgate treating it to DVD and 4K Ultra HD editions as well as the Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD combo pack reviewed here.

Patriots Day: Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD cover art - click to buy from Amazon.com Blu-ray & DVD Details

2.40:1 Widescreen (DVD Anamorphic)
Blu-ray: DTS-X 7.1/DTS-HD MA (English), Dolby Digital 5.1 (Spanish, French), Dolby Surround 2.0 (Late Night Viewing Optimized, DVS), DTS Headphone X 2.0 (English)
DVD: Dolby Digital 5.1 (English, Spanish, French), Dolby Surround 2.0 (English DVS)
Subtitles: English for Hearing Impaired, French for Hearing Impaired, Spanish
Extras Not Subtitled; Not Closed Captioned
Release Date: March 28, 2017
Suggested Retail Price: $39.99
Two single-sided, dual-layered discs (DVD-9 & BD-50)
Blue Eco-Friendly Keepcase in Embossed Cardboard Slipcover
Also available on standalone DVD ($29.98 SRP), 4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray + Digital HD ($29.99 SRP), and Amazon Instant Video


Berg/Wahlberg movies may sometimes leave something to be desired dramatically, but they're never less than polished technically. Patriots Day adds to that tradition with a sharp-looking 2.40:1 Blu-ray transfer and lively default 7.1 DTS-X/DTS-HD master audio mix. Deepwater Horizon got the Oscar sound nomination with its ocean disaster effects, but this one has impact as well with its explosions and gunfire engulfing, while dialogue remains crisp and cutting, and score provides a steady dramatic presence. There is a 4K edition for those who have adopted that young format, but this release leaves nothing to be desired when judged by the standards of Blu-ray.

Jeff Pugliese, the real life Watertown police sergeant portrayed by J.K. Simmons in the film, returns to the site of his heroics in "The Boston Strong: True Stories of Courage." Behind-the-scenes footage shows Patriots Day's recreation of the Boston Marathon.


The Blu-ray's full supply of extras begins with "The Boston Strong: True Stories of Courage" (21:34), which is made up of three shorts getting the accounts of three real people who acted heroically
in the wake of the Marathon bombings: surgeon Dr. Jeffrey Kalish, carjack hostage Dun Meng (who returns to the gas station where he fled), and Watertown police sergeant Jeff Pugliese (who points out the bullet holes at the shots that were fired at him, but missed). These first-person testimonials are moving and more fitting here than at the end of the film.

"The Boston Bond: Recounting the Tale" (21:43) is a general making-of featurette that broaches the subject with a sensitive touch as filmmakers and real heroes alike vouch for the production bringing authenticity and respect to telling this true story.

"The Real Patriots: The Local Heroes' Stories" (19:48) lets real police officers and detectives recall their experiences from that fateful time four years ago.

"The Cast Remembers" (5:51) lets the cast recall their feelings upon hearing the news of the Marathon bombing back in April 2013.

John Goodman sits next to Ed Davis, the darkly eyebrowed Boston police commissioner he portrays in the film in one of two "Actors Meet Real-Life Counterparts" interviews. Director Peter Berg demonstrates he doesn't take the bombing lightly in his solemn featurette interviews.

"Actors Meet Real-Life Counterparts" (18:13) brings together John Goodman and Ed Davis for one joint interview and Jimmy O. Yang and the real Dun Meng for another.

"Researching the Day" (11:22) celebrates Berg and talks up his and the production's efforts taken to get the true story right.

"Also from Lionsgate" repeats the disc-opening trailers for Deepwater Horizon,
Hacksaw Ridge, Manchester by the Sea, Hell or High Water, and John Wick: Chapter 2. Sadly, no trailers for Patriots are included.

The DVD included here, the same one sold on its own, includes only the three "Boston Strong" shorts and "Researching the Day", meaning it loses the bulk of the bonus material. In its defense, it is filled near dual-layered disc capacity.

The scored main menu patriotically plays a filtered montage of dramatic clips between a blue and a red bar.

The blue Blu-ray and gray DVD take opposite sides of an eco-friendly keepcase, topped by a standard cardboard slipcover reproducing the Wahlberg-centric artwork below.

Jeffrey Pugliese (J.K. Simmons), the spry senior police sergeant of nearby Watertown, springs into action to pursue the Marathon bombers.


It may seem too soon to dramatize the Boston Marathon bombing, but Patriots Day manages to offer a highly compelling and fairly tasteful fact-based recreation of that 2013 incident in the vein of Peter Berg and Mark Wahlberg's other pretty good true modern tales of heroism. Neglected in theaters, the film warrants a look here in Lionsgate's technically sound and supplementally sturdy Blu-ray combo pack.

Buy Patriots Day from Amazon.com:
Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD / 4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray + Digital HD / DVD / Instant Video

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Mark Wahlberg: The Fighter Invincible Transformers: Age of Extinction
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Kevin Bacon: Black Mass Footloose Quicksilver | J.K. Simmons: The Accountant The Meddler
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Sully Zodiac Captain Phillips

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Reviewed April 2, 2017.

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