Saturday, 25 February 2017



Marathon Men.

133 Mins. Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Kevin Bacon, J.K. Simmons, Michelle Monaghan, Melissa Benoist, Michael Beach & John Goodman. Director: Peter Berg.

Boston's strength just keeps running through the hearts of every patriot of New England, each and every day. And now this 'Patriots Day' pays tribute to all the brave men and women who took their city back in the wake of the tragic bombing of the Boston Marathon back in 2013. All whilst giving all due respect to all who lost their lives or livelihoods on that fateful day in April. And with great honour Bostonian Mark Wahlberg reunites with 'Lone Survivor' director Peter Berg for the third time with his latest double act, right after they dealt with the B.P. oil spill and the survivors of that burning rig in the emotional and powerful 'Deepwater Horizon' drama. And this follow up hit to your gut has just as much emotive power, from the nerve shaking camerawork, to the realism shell shocked rocked to your core. With stirring scenes too close for cinema seat comfort. It's clear to see from these two that the 'Battleship' and 'Hancock' director and the 'Transformers' and 'Ted' star are getting far more serious. But this weekend are the Academy? As this Sunday the Oscars has passed by both men and both films when at least one of them should have got a nomination in each, even insofar as going against each other and film. From 'The Departed' to 'The Kingdom' this actor/director perfect partnership have shown individual inspiration worthy of an award all on their own. Wahlberg had Oscar gold shine on him amongst Scorsese's 'Departed' Boston brotherhood of Matt Damon and an accented Leonardo DiCaprio and Jack Nicholson, but he's been snubbed before. Did you see 'The Fighter' with winner Melissa Leo and 'American Hustle's' Amy Adams and Christian Bale? Because apparantly the Academy did...but not the bits that Wahlberg's lead marked. And with the spotlight again on a real life account in Boston's history this year following Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Liev Schreiber and Mark Ruffalo's time with Oscar last time round, this is a drama that actually rings truer than Casey Affleck's 'Manchester By The Sea' favourite. Touching and moving the rawest of nerves in unison, even outside the city limits. But even if the Hollywood Oscars that probably won't see past 'La La Land' to 'Moonlight' are playing games with these 'Patriots', even after February they will still have their day.

And here it is as the old Irish of this film show civic pride to this Beantown city like a Celtic. Wahlberg and Berg are really trying to say something...and especially here more than anything. Just like in honouring the purple heart of 'Lone Survivor' Marcus Luttrell and his awe inspiring, awesome autobiography after this individuals ordeal, surving a desert storm after losing his brave band of brothers in blood. Or every man, woman and crew hand on 'Deepwater Horizon' that strived to survived after the rig blew in powerful petroleum flames as the oil rich, fat cat B.P. bigwigs wanted to cut corners for their cash no matter what or who was the cost. Now in the ultimate survival of the fittest true story the actor of everyman character again plays a man of great service who goes above and beyond the call of duty for his city and country. In playing a cop with more courtesy, professionalism and respect...or "General Patton in a neon vest" as a Goodman says, Mark can't be beat. The die-hard New England Patriots fans shows he actually really is one down to his dedication and tried and testament tribute here. Phoning nothing in, but calling in every by the book and beyond notion of a lawman doing right amongst all the disorder, Wahlberg captured his real-life, blue-collar Boston character like New Jersey rocker Springsteen does in song across state lines. All to another stunning, sonic score from 'Gone Girl', Nine Inch Nails legends Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, recalling the string section of their bands best and strongest work in 'The Fragile' era. It's time to stop counting this Wahlberg out as a real actor as he helps shape the account of a city you can never put down. As aside Berg he brings the 'Boston Strong' book by 'The Finest Hours' (check out the movie adaptation with Casey Affleck) author Casey Sherman's story off the pages and right to the real people that define each word with everything they do. Directing with a diligence due, that is all Eastwood no b.s., subtle but strong sincerity and no Hollywood big-budget disaster flick crass gloss or uncooked corn. Berg even shows us the sick, disilusioned side of the terrorists and their day-to-day lives. Having them texting emoticons and 'LOL's about their manhunt wanted status to effectively show us just how absurd and disturbed they really were. But when it comes to the good guys, the heroes, Berg lets the real stars shine. The individual heroes that came together at a time terrorists tried to tear them...and us apart.

And there's more men who will honour these individuals here. Like Wahlberg's 'Gambler' co-star John Goodman who is more of a friendly face here to Mark in a commanding role of class and captaincy. He rounds out a big-three of screen greats here furthering their legend. As Kevin Bacon is back, going from being before every film to in all the ones that matter. And as a matter of fact this may be talked about as Kevin's best in years as a F.B.I. agent that takes charge of this situation. Just like ageing cop J.K. Simmons who just wants to get the job done and done right before coming home to his wife...inbetween some Dunkin' Donuts of course. A key Boston character that the town runs on...aint that right Casey?! The 'Whiplash' Oscar winning J.K. who rolling, recently fired Ryan Gosling in Damien Chazelle's 'La La Land' is symbol perfect here. Cop complete with a maverick moustache a la Kurt Russell in 'Deepwater'. Clearly going from 'Spider-Man' to 'The Batman' Mr. Jameson is getting his Commissioner Gordon training in early like his gym henched Instagrams whipped into sculpted shape. Speaking of 'Whiplash' and superheroes, 'Supergirl' Melissa Benoist is almost unrecognisable, but as an actor remarkable as a character on the other side of the hope and glee that she normally radiates. Yet she still shines as a star in something seriously sinister. Just like 'True Detective', 'Gone Baby Gone', 'Source Code' and 'Fort Bliss' standout star Michelle Monaghan who brings more depth to her already deep and diverse roles that the shallow waters of some of the Academy haven't tread. She shines yet again in a city of heroes and stars including 'Third Watch' T.V. star and 'E.R.' paramedic Michael Beach who is back on duty and mayor major here as governer. All the amazing actors who play the even realer Boston people here (from Jimmy O. Yang's carjacked civillian hero, to Jake Picking's heroic cop victim), tie everything together like the red, white and blue laces of the marathon men that make up the American flag tribute on this films poster. It may be a banner moment again for Berg and Wahlberg again but come this April, four years on when the starters pistol goes off and all those men and women running for Boston and the cheering crowd and servicemen in salute watching them complete this race and cross the line together, we all know who this is really for. The town and it's strong people of pride that will never stop running. No matter what stands in their way. TIM DAVID HARVEY.

See This If You Liked: 'Lone Survivor', 'Deepwater Horizon', 'Spotlight'.

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