April 15, 2013 is a day that lives in infamy for Bostonians, Americans and runners world-wide. On that day, double bombings near the Boston Marathon finish line killed 3 people, including an 8-year-old boy, and injured 264 others, irrevocably changing their lives.
Last week, some lucky members of Philadelphia’s running community were invited to attend a screening of “Patriot’s Day” at the Ritz East, a movie that details the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings and subsequent manhunt.
Several of my friends ran Boston on that infamous day. Timing is everything and I’m grateful that these friends lived to tell the tale. One friend attended the film and said he had to mentally prepare himself to relive that horrifying experience. I can’t even imagine.
This film helps you better understand the underpinnings of this vicious terror attack. Directed by Peter Berg, the star-studded cast includes Mark Wahlberg, Kevin Bacon, John Goodman, and Michele Monaghan, (whom I love in Hulu’s “The Path”).
We all know the details of the bombings. The film meticulously slows down the story and tells it from multiple angles – from the protagonist’s POV –the fictional cop Tommy Saunders played by Mark Wahlberg – as well as from the antagonists’ perspective – The Tsarnev brothers.
The film brought to the forefront the power struggle between the FBI and Boston’s local law enforcement. Of course, both shared the same goal: to capture the Tsarnev brothers. We saw how each entity harnessed their unique talents in the manhunt.
It’s amazing and sad how quickly you forget the secondary string of tragedies associated with the bombings. Of course we all remember the gruesome scene at the finish line, particularly the senseless death of Martin Richard, an innocent, 8-year-old victim. But I had honestly forgotten about the MIT security officer who was murdered. MIT was just blocks from where I stayed in Cambridge when I ran Boston last year. I also did not know the harrowing details of the carjacking and kidnapping of Chinese immigrant, Danny Meng. He proved to be instrumental in reigning in the manhunt for the Tsarnev brothers
The movie mostly stuck to the facts, tempered with some appropriately humorous moments, to tell the story. What struck me most was how this film could have easily been preachy. It is not. Berg wisely allowed the storyline to lead viewers to draw their own conclusions.
Some film tidbits from my Boston Marathon 2016 experience
Last year, when I ran the Boston Marathon, I blithely ran by Mark Wahlberg near the finish line, wondering why the hell he was dressed in a police uniform. (Your brain is not at its best after running 26.2 miles) There was a lot of buzz at the finish line about the upcoming film.
If you follow me on Instagram, you may remember a shot of me berating the “My Little Pony” color scheme of this year’s women’s Boston Marathon jackets. This said, sticklers for attention watching this film will notice many of these Miami-Vice-like jackets interspersed throughout some of the crowd scenes – a minor historical inaccuracy and good reason for Adidas to avoid garish color combinations in the future.
As I ran the marathon, near the Newton Hills, I saw bombing victim Adrianne Haslet, running the race on her prosthetics. She finished. Every spectator and everyone who ran by her applauded wildly. It was very emotional to see her out there, bravely defying the terrorists and evil. She represents the true spirit of Boston. So does this film.