On April 15th, 2013, near the finish line of the Boston Marathon, two homemade bombs detonated twelve seconds apart, killing three, injuring hundreds, and leading to a four-day manhunt for the two brothers responsible, resulting in the death of one and the capture of the other.
Nearly four years after the devastating attack, Patriot’s Day has been released in the UK – a drama-thriller about the events of the bombing and the subsequent manhunt. Directed by Peter Berg and starring Mark Wahlberg, J.K Simmons, Kevin Bacon and Michelle Monaghan, it’s a star-studded production which following its US release was chosen by the National Board of Review as one of the top ten films of 2016.
The film itself is based on the book Boston Strong: A City’s Triumph over Tragedy, written by veteran journalists Casey Sherman and Dave Wedge. Boston Strong is the first book to tell the story of the Boston Marathon Bombing from the eyes of those who experienced it, and it’s these thoroughly vivid, often heart-breaking and yet inspirational stories which laid the basis for Patriot’s Day, which combines real news footage with reconstruction, and which incorporates testimonies of survivors in a moving tribute to those affected by the events.
Patriot’s Day isn’t the only cinematic exploration of the Boston Marathon bombing; there have been several documentaries exploring the events, their lead up and their aftermath. Glass Entertainment Group have recently acquired rights to the upcoming book Maximum Harm, which focuses on the two brothers who perpetrated the bombing: their upbringing, their education, their radicalisation and their actions. The book will be developed as a documentary series.
The story of the Boston Marathon Bombing is a harrowing one, and has been in the news again recently, and not only because of the release of Patriot’s Day. A recent announcement revealed that a mother and daughter who survived the bombing are to be awarded the Villanova Humanitarian Award – following their survival, they have gone on to support victims of the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, as well as becoming involved with various charities.
This is what Boston Strong and Patriot’s Day are really about: the inspirational and uplifting spirit of humanity which emerged from these terrible events. It’s a story of survival, of a city pulling together in the face of terror, and the overcoming of so much horror and loss. Even Maximum Harm, despite its focus on the bombers themselves, is a tribute to the city’s first responders and their heroism.
As a review of Patriot’s Day from the NY Times remarks: “Movies that depict heinous real-life criminal acts and attempt to grapple with their human toll are provocative undertakings, particularly when they’re made so soon after the actual events. As it happens, “Patriots Day” works so well on a dramatic level that my qualms were silenced almost entirely from the start…. the movie focuses on the community that the bombings intended to tear apart, and how Boston and its surrounding towns came together, imperfectly but with a steely determination, to apprehend the culprits.”
Regardless of some mixed reviews regarding pacing and storytelling, Patriot’s Day has been widely hailed as a fitting tribute to those affected by the bombing, and the spirit of Boston, just as Boston Strong before it.
If you’ve seen the movie – or even if you haven’t – the book behind the blockbuster is well worth a read; it delves deeper into those real-life stories that the film touches on, bringing them together with a familiarity and skill that’s both honest and touching.
Boston Strong: A City’s Triumph over Tragedy, by Casey Sherman and Dave Wedge, and published by ForeEdge, is available to buy from Oxbow Books.
Maximum Harm: The Tsarnaev Brothers, the FBI, and the Road to the Marathon Bombing , by Michele R. McPhee and published by UPNE, is available to pre-order from Oxbow Books.
Patriot’s Day was released in the UK on 23rd February 2017.