First Hit: This was an interesting perspective of a very tragic event in Boston and America’s history.
This dramatization of a horrific event was both; interesting from a historical perspective and not very engaging from a character standpoint. The film took a very broad perspective of the people to be included as characters. It included the various law enforcement agencies including; the Boston Police Department, the FBI, Watertown Police Department, MIT Police Department and a couple of other US Government agencies. From a citizen perspective, there were both students and citizens from various neighborhoods.
The filmmakers made attempts to provide backstories, or history per se, of certain characters, however despite being helpful at a small level it was difficult to engage with anyone at an emotional level. For example; Police Officer Sergeant Tommy Saunders (Mark Wahlberg) was the lead character and we learn early on he’s got a history with the department and is on probation. Why? We never really find out but there are multiple references to alcohol and there are a couple scenes where he drinks when it might have been better if he didn’t.
But this isn’t the story, but it nagged at me that we didn’t have this history. The story is about how Boston and others captured the brothers, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and Tamerlan Tsarnaev (Alex Wolff and Themo Melikidze respectively), who become radicalized Muslim bombers and exploded two bombs at the finish line of the Boston Marathon.
The film tries to track a lot of people including: the Tsarnaev brothers, Tamerlan’s wife Katherine Russell (Melissa Benoist), Officer Saunders, bomb injured married couple Patrick Downes (Christopher O’Shea) and Jessica Kensky (Rachel Brosnahan), MIT Officer Sean Collier (Jake Picking), car jacked Dun Meng (Jimmy O. Yang), Boston Commissioner Ed Davis (John Goodman), Boston Mayor Thomas Menino (Vincent Curatola), FBI Special Agent Richard DesLauriers (Kevin Bacon), Watertown Police Sergeant Jeffery Pugliese (J. K. Simmons), Carol Saunders (Michelle Monaghan), Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick (Michael Beach), and a host of others. It begins the evening before the bombing and goes to when they were captured (Dzhokhar) and killed (Tamerlan). One thing that was interesting was that this film had one of the largest credited and uncredited casts for any film in recent memory.
The filmmakers used some archival footage as well as re-enacted scenes in following the brothers, law enforcement, and citizens over subsequent week as the brothers tried to escape, go to New York to place another bomb, and how they were captured through the use of technology, law enforcement officers, and the bravery of citizens.
Wahlberg was very good as the film’s key focal point. I wanted to know more of why he was being punished, but from a character point of view he was very strong. Wolff and Melikidze were both very solid as the brothers who brought this havoc to Boston. I think they did a great job of emoting the attitude as affected Muslim radicals. Bacon was wonderful as the FBI agent trying to get the bombers identified and captured quickly. O’Shea and Brosnahan were wonderful as the married couple that lost limbs, survived, and made it back to a subsequent race. Yang was really good as the young man whose car was hijacked by the brothers during their escape. Simmons was OK as the Watertown Sergeant. Goodman was strong as the Commissioner. Picking was wonderful as the caring officer that was shot by the brothers. Monaghan was engaging as Officer Saunders’ wife. Peter Berg, Matt Cook, and Joshua Zetumer wrote a very ambitious screenplay that attempted to cover numerous stories around this very tragic event. In this ambitious effort, it lost a little heart and focus. Peter Berg did his best to cover this expansive story.
Overall: This is an amazing story to tell and it does honor the affected people.