Saturday, 18 February 2017


Peter Berg's latest right-wing propaganda piece is also his most devious. The average American worker is exalted for their devotion to their duty, the forces that dictate the nature of that duty are lambasted for their abstract intelligence, and America's enemies are demonized for their, well, devotion to their duty. Wrapping up their fascist disdain for complex thought in complex distractions only demonstrates the filmmakers' complicity in wilfully peddling the most conservative interpretation available of the facts. Patriots Day is a predictably impressive piece of technical work, and thus impossible for me to dismiss outright, much as I'd love to given the insidious toxicity of its political stance. But it never wholly overcomes that toxicity, instead using its technical competence and an array of diversions to allay the suspicions of its more discerning audience members. Sturdy, muscular filmmaking begets expertly-crafted action sequences featuring effective editing, excellent sound design, and strong stunt work; Berg is a talented director the more he identifies and hones his particular skill set, and the less he wastes his time with lacklustre dramatic content. Patriots Day's screenplay is loaded with scene after scene of the kind of soapy emotional exposition that actors love and that intelligent audiences abhor, most of it blatantly fictional, designed only to deliver further potency to the film's coarsely conservative message. And thus, when it's not focused on its burgeoning capacity for technical prowess, it becomes entirely possible again to dismiss Patriots Day outright, if only for a while. In that regard, at least Peter Berg has given this liberal a little of what he loves to do.