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‘Patriot’s Day’ is a movie starring Mark Wahlberg that tells the story of the 2013 Boston Marathon Bombing. The movie opens nationwide on January 13, 2017, but some of the cops involved have been to a special viewing.
I reached out to them to get their opinion of a story they lived going to the big screen.
The movie follows Boston Sergeant Tommy Saunders (Wahlberg) who is not a real police officer but rather a mixture of about five different officer experiences.
Officers tell me that there are some very accurate depictions and some not so accurate but that it to be expected from Hollywood.
I’m glad that leadership plays a large role in the film as the FBI, Commissioner Ed Davis and Chief Billy Evans were all prominent figures in the investigation and that does translate to the film.
During the hunt for the suspects, Watertown (MA) Sergeant Jeff Pugliese is the focus. It is played by J.K. Simmons and we continue to hear that this portrayal was spot on. Pugliese played a prominent role in the capture and he is correctly shown as calm and cool under pressure.
There are a couple holes in the movie and by me pointing them out, I am in no way saying these are huge mistakes. I understand that complete accuracy is impossible when you take a multiple day event and roll it into a couple of hours in a movie theater but the officers that lived it wanted you to know.
Officer Sean Collier is killed by the Tsarnaev brothers at MIT and the movie doesn’t show the effect that had on those around him that night. The focus from law enforcement shifted that night to looking for the bombing suspects in Boston to a cop killer in Cambridge. No one knew at the time they were one in the same.
The shootout in Watertown is 100% Hollywood with cars exploding, guys getting thrown through the air, etc. MBTA Transit Police Officer Richard “Dic” Donohue is shown getting shot but the movie misses the heroics of the first responders that saved his life from what all accounts should have been a line of duty death.
The overall film is positive for our profession and as it comes to the end, the movie depicts area residents cheering the police which is an accurate picture of what this country thinks of the police.
Transit Police Officer Richard “Dic” Donohue was one of the heroes that I spoke to that has seen the movie. Here is what he had to say:
“It’s tough not to be critical of Patriots Day as I lived through many of the events, and had to realize that it is, after all, a movie and not a documentary. As police officers, we were all affected by that week, whether portrayed by the filmmakers or not. It was a team effort that we should be proud of. No single man nor woman saved the city or saved the day. The loss of Officer Sean Collier on April 18, 2013, sparked an immediate chain reaction from police officers that no screenplay could ever fully capture. It wasn’t a time to be emotional, it was a time to fulfill our duties. His loss continues to have a ripple effect on our community and on me. His character, sense of humor, and service above self could never be depicted fully on screen.”
Donohue continued, “If I look at it in today’s environment, it has some important messages for ourselves and the public. Police officers are portrayed in a positive manner, especially when faced with extraordinary challenges. The strength, perseverance, and courage of the officers depicted in Patriots Day shows the best in all of us. It will undoubtedly inspire audiences nationwide.”
‘Patriots Day’ shows the raw emotions of what happened to everyone working in the Boston area that week. Law enforcement is depicted as human and as real people. Boston faced an incredible challenge the week of April 15, 2013, and they rose to the occasion.
“Boston Strong” is well deserved and on behalf of the law enforcement community I am thankful to Mark Wahlberg and everyone else that helped bring this incredible story to the big screen.