Peter Berg has been chronicling modern American history in his last few films and this movie captures the events surrounding the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing. As the movie captures recent events there was a fine line to walk in the making of this movie between feeling insensitive and exploitive while aiming for a more respectful take on people's tragedy that exists for people still living with vivid memories. I wouldn't know what it was like to experience that sort of chaos and pain so I can't comment on how the movie felt for those who experienced it. I felt it was respectful and took a more historical approach though wouldn't agree to adding to the story of the cowardly brothers and their selfish, cruel act.
The story follows several characters but primarily Detective Tommy Saunder (Mark Wahlberg) who was reprimanded for rough treatment of a suspect. He is forced to guard the finish line by Commission Ed Davis (John Goodman) as his one last hoop to jump through. Little does he know that he will be at the spot of history where tragedy suddenly erupts. He invites his wife Carol (Michelle Monaghan) to see him right where the bomb will be laid.
The story also follows Jessica Kensky (Rachel Brosnahan) and her husband Patrick Downes (Christopher O'Shea) who go out for the day to watch the Red Sox and catch the runners crossing the finish line. The explosions are hard to watch and the gruesomeness of the scene is gritty and unrelenting. The aftermath sparks an investigation and manhunt that shuts down the whole city of Boston.
Leading the investigation is Special Agent Richard DesLauriers (Kevin Bacon) who treads the line between tapping phones and violating privacy and respecting the American people and their rights. Set up in a warehouse, the FBI recreates the crime scene and scrutinizes security footage for any sign of the bombers. The story also follows the Tsarnaev brothers, Dzohkar (Alex Wolff) and Tamerlan (Themo Melikidze) as they leave their home, callously murder Officer Sean Collier (Jake Picking), and take hostage Dun Meng (Jimmy O. Yang) as they hijack his car. One of the most intense moments of the film was the shootout in Watertown, Massachusetts between the terrorist brothers and the police led by Sergeant Jeffrey Pugliese (J.K. Simmons).
I understand the controversy following the film and from the lack of box office success, it looks like audiences were not interested in reliving another tragic moment in American history. Unfortunately, these events happen far too often and I could barely remember the specific details though I followed the news stories four years ago. There is a powerful story however about the city rallying together and a great depiction of Boston Strong.