With "Lone Survivor" and the newly opened "Deepwater Horizon," Peter Berg has made a specialty of mining the heroism of American tragedies. He returns to that well with "Patriots Day," the new movie about a set of criss-crossing police personnel during the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013 whose teaser trailer hit the Web on Wednesday.
If the title of the film didn't give away that we were in Beantown, other moments in the spot make sure we don't forget: establishing shots of Fenway Park, close-ups of the Boston PD insignia, lingering images of Red Sox logos and the kind of working-class Massachusetts accents that at least one member of the Wahlberg or Affleck families is contractually obligated to undertake each year.
Patriotism also hits us early and often: numerous shots of American flags, men in military uniforms marching or standing watch and a slowed-down instrumental version of "America the Beautiful" that plays over much of the action.
With mostly wordless images of the bombing and its aftermath (the film focuses in part on the manhunt for the Tsarnaev brothers), the new teaser doesn't offer much in the way of plot. Instead it serves as a kind of first look at Mark Wahlberg as Boston PD Sergeant Tommy Saunders and the supporting cast — J.K. Simmons, John Goodman — that surrounds him.
With some of his newer work, Berg has proved adept at plumbing and revealing the gritty parts of the American soul, even if he's not matched the deconstruction of patriotism that attended his earlier "Friday Night Lights." "Patriots Day" will look to follow in those footsteps, particularly the box-office path of "Lone Survivor" — by opening in theaters at the end of December and then widening in January, it will follow a similar release pattern to the Afghan war drama, which was a surprise hit with a $155-million worldwide take.
"Some events test our courage. Some people inspire our strength. And some moments define our spirit," read the words at the end of the "Patriots Day" teaser. A nice set of sentiments, though it remains to be seen whether the movie could give it dramatic life.
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