- The Washington Times - Monday, January 16, 2017

Some critics are taking shots at “Patriots Day” – the thriller starring Mark Wahlberg about the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings and the manhunt for the terrorists in the aftermath of the attack – for its unapologetic portrayal of America as a force for good in the battle against radical Islamic terrorism.

Writing at BuzzFeed, Anne Helen Petersen says the film omits crucial context about the motives of the terrorists, brothers Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, who killed 4 and injured 264 in the blasts at the marathon’s finish line and killed an MIT police officer several days later while fleeing.

The real world is not as black and white as “Patriots Day” makes it out to be, she says.

“You can argue that evil needs no explanation, no contextualization,” Ms. Petersen writes in her review published on Friday. “But that’s the problem with a post-9/11 film like Patriots Day: There’s a reason, and a history, for the radicalization of Islam — a history in which the United States has played an active part.”

She says “Patriots Day” captures the spirit of “Trump’s America,” which includes “a return to the delineation of global politics into camps of right and wrong, patriot and terrorist, winners and losers, and an impulse to flatten and otherwise ignore reality in the name of feeling good and guiltless.”

Additionally, the film’s depiction of police officers is unrealistic because “there are no negative interactions with citizens, no race-based tensions, no depictions of Islamophobia in the wake of the bombings.”

Kaitlyn Tiffany echoes several of these sentiments at The Verge. Movies like “Patriots Day,” Ms. Tiffany writes in her review published on Sunday, provide a “prism through which viewers can project their own pre-conceived (and carefully catered to) notions of American heroism.”

She expresses contempt for the “clapping and scattered whooping” of her fellow audience members during decisive moments and punch lines throughout the movie – the sort of chauvinism President Obama sought in vain to extinguish during his time in office, she says.

“This movie caters to a jingoism that the political right has spent the last eight years defending from the withering gaze of an incredibly enlightened president, but even New Yorkers found it in themselves to cheer for what is now the winning team,” Ms. Tiffany writes.

And writing at Slate, Amy Nicholson groups “Patriots Day” with other real-life stories purporting to depict American valor on the big screen, such as “Lone Survivor,” “American Sniper” and “13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi.”

These movies, Ms. Nicholson writes in her review published Jan. 2, “took recent-ish headlines and simplified them, and their idealized saviors, into a satisfying adventure where the good guys win—or, at least, make it clear who’s to blame.”

They are “strangely soothing bedtime stories that whisper yes, the word is cruel and dangerous, but everything’s going to be OK if a competent white man is in charge,” she continues. “They’ll be martyred for the world’s sins.”

“Patriots Day,” directed by Peter Berg, opened to $12 million over the first days of the holiday weekend and has a 79 percent favorable rating at Rotten Tomatoes.

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