It is the first #Throwback Thursday of the new year, and with my recently attending a screening that included a live via video Q&A, I thought I would take the time to discuss the new film Patriots Day, including my takeaways from the question and answer portion.
The moment the film Patriots Day was announced, I knew I would be seeing it. The combination of Mark Wahlberg, and Peter Berg doing a film about the real events surrounding the Boston Marathon Bombing wasn’t on my radar because of the pairing, as I haven’t seen Lone Survivor, or Deepwater Horizon yet. It wasn’t even my love of seeing movies set in, or about Boston, which is something I enjoy very much. The reason I wanted to see this film was based purely because of how vivid my memories of that day, and that week still are, almost 4 years later. This film was always going to be a tough watch, because I was so invested in the events surrounding the marathon bombing, and the subsequent manhunt, because I was in Boston that day. I feel weird every time I talk about it because I certainly did not have the worst experience that day, nor would I ever claim to, but still, being in a city that is panicked, and scared, is not something that I ever thought I would be, or ever want to be in again. It was a weird feeling, because in the end I was safe, when so many were not, but the uncertainty of the situation, coupled with knowing, and seeing what was so close to me, even in the aftermath, was something that I thought about in the days that followed.
I am not from Boston, but as a fan of Boston sports, I have grown up loving that city, and I am always excited whenever I get to spend any time there. Patriots Day was always something I enjoyed, it was always funny to me that Massachusetts had this holiday that nobody else did, and that the city of Boston would all but shut down on the third Monday in April, while the rest of the country goes about their normal routine of hating the start of their week. Growing up, Patriots Day to me was the day the Red Sox played at 11am on a Monday, and in the years leading up to 2013, was a day that my dad and I would try to get tickets for, because it was so much fun to see an early morning baseball game, and to experience the city on “Marathon Monday.” The morning of Patriots Day 2013 started the same as others we made the drive up to Boston from Connecticut, it was a beautiful day, though a little chilly given the early start time. We parked at the commons, and went to the Red Sox game, making sure to be there 2 hours early just in case there was batting practice, no such luck for a morning game. The game was exciting, the team had been playing well, and those early April games always carry the hope of a renewed season, something sorely needed after the previous disastrous year. I don’t remember many specifics of the game, but the one thing that has stuck in my head all these years is that the Red Sox blew a save in the 9th inning, and were forced to play in the bottom of the inning, extending the game by another half an hour or so. Now at the time, I was mad, I hate those moments in baseball, I wanted my team to win, and they should have done so in the top of the inning, but never the less, they pulled out the victory, and capped off an overall good game. The part that I thought about the most in the moments after the bombing though, were how many more people, myself included, may have been at that finish line at that moment, had the Red Sox game ended earlier.
Following the game my dad and I did what we had come accustomed to doing after the Patriots day Red Sox game, we walked the few blocks away from Fenway Park, and met up with the Marathon route. Since we started going to Patriots Day game, we would always walk the last mile of the marathon, because it was cool to watch the runners finishing the course, it was pretty much the direction we had to go anyway, and it gave my dad the opportunity to say he “finished the Boston Marathon,” a Dad joke I know he was always fond of saying. So we left Fenway and headed down to the marathon route, passing local Bostonians cheering on the runners, signs of encouragement from total strangers, and friends and family of runners who had made the trip just to cheer them on. We carried on conversations as we always did, taking in the sights and sounds of the most exciting part of the 26.2 mile journey that these people had embarked on. It wasn’t until we neared the final turn off of Commonwealth Ave, towards Boylston street, that anything seems out of the ordinary.
We were about 2 or 3 blocks from the turn, when we heard a loud boom, neither of us thought anything of it, we weren’t sure what it was, but played it off as if it was just some random noise, nothing that would cause alarm. Then came the second boom, we looked around like everyone else, though because of our positioning, the sound seemed to come from the other direction, because we were hearing bouncing off of other buildings, so at no point did we think that it was coming from the finish line, which at this point was still our destination. It wasn’t until that final block, as we made the last turn and headed toward Boylston that we realized something was wrong. About 5 police officers who were lining the root all put their ears to their shoulder mics, and then congregated together, not something you see normally, and certainly not something you want to see after hearing two loud booms just a moment before, but still we walked on, watching as the runners passed us by, knowing that their long morning was almost over. We only made it to about the next street when the officers starting telling everybody to leave. The few officers on that one stretch of the Marathon starting telling everyone, as calmly yet forcefully as they could, that the race was over, and that everybody had to leave, and they needed to go the opposite direction of the finish line. My dad and I were confused, much like many others on that part of the street were, a few event started question how the race could possibly be over, and stating that they were not going to leave for one reason or another. We continued walking toward Boylston as intended when an officer walked over to a man who stated he wasn’t leaving, and said “It could happen here too,” which is something I will never forget.
The moment that a police officer says something that vague, yet ominous, panic set in, murmurs and whispers started in the crowd as everybody was trying to find out exactly what was going on, since nobody had been close enough to the finish to know the horror that had taken place. The problem at this point became that nobody knew, and rumors and speculation were starting to permeate the crowd of people walking away from the finish line. I remember trying to look up on twitter what was happening, but couldn’t find any concrete information, it was all too new. Slowly myself, and others in the crowd started to put the story together, and in doing so, answered some questions while raising other. It was truly a unique experience to know that something scary had happened, with the uncertainty of whether or not it was over. My dad and I then attempted to call family and friends, who knew we were in the city, and let them know we were ok, a task proved difficult by the inability to make calls in the city, as so many people were trying to call out, or in. We were able to in time, though our own vague pleas of “something happened, don’t know what, but we are ok, didn’t do much to calm the fears of loved ones. We then had to circle back around, because we needed to check on my sister, who was attending college not far from where the bombings took place. We were able to get to her, and we watched the news from her dorm room, since she wasn’t allowed to leave the building, given the nature of the day’s events. After an hour or two we decided to try to go home, as there wasn’t anything else that we could do in the city that day, and it seemed as though everything from a safety aspect was over. When we got to the parking area where our car was, it was all surrounded by heavily armed officers, because given the nature of an underground parking garage, they naturally wanted to make sure that whoever was responsible, didn’t have any more incidents planned for that afternoon. After explaining our situation, and proving that our car was in fact in the garage, we were allowed to leave, thus ending the day for us, something I am grateful that we were able to do, given that so many, law enforcement, first responders, medical personnel, and victims, did not have the luxury to do, at such an early hour.
I followed every aspect of that next week, I wanted them to solve this more than anything, and with each passing day I knew that they would, because I knew that Boston would not let those responsible get away. I got swept up in Boston Strong, because I knew it was more than just a slogan. I watched as the teams in the city honored those working with the 617 jerseys, Boston’s Area code, and I welled up with pride when the entire Boston Garden sang along to the National Anthem. It was an incredible week, and one that I will not forget, and one that I am overly excited, was portrayed with such delicate sensitivity, throughout the film Patriots Day.
The main reason I went to this particular showing of Patriots Day, as oppose to waiting for Matinee Monday, was because of the included live Q&A following the film. After the conclusion, a Q&A panel was presented for a very short question and answer session, with questions mostly coming from the moderator, and not the audience/Twitter, as it had been presented. The panel consisted of Peter Berg, Mark Wahlberg, as well as both actors, and real life people who were portrayed in the film. The main points of the questions centered on bringing the many real stories to life, something that Berg and Wahlberg were extremely proud of, and for good reason. Every member of the panel stated what an amazing job they did meeting with the victims, the officers, the FBI agent, and all those close to the events portrayed in the film. With each question for the real people regarding what was important for them to have portrayed in the film, each said they had hoped that whoever played them, got the details right, and praised Berg for taking the time to accomplish that. Police Commissioner Ed Davis stated that when he spoke with John Goodman, he conveyed that the specifics of the situation, and how it was handled, was more important than how he was portrayed, as he understood that the whole story was bigger than him.
They asked Peter Berg how this film differed from his other real event films, and he stated that this film required more sensitivity, because in the other films he was portraying characters that knew there was an inherent danger to jobs, as Marines, and as workers on an Oil rig, they knew those risks, but with this, these were civilians who were injured or lost their lives, they only had the intention of enjoying a nice spring day in Boston, and were thrust into this tragedy, and in the end proved that love triumphs over adversity, and that is something that terrorism can never take away. Mark Wahlberg concluded that while he felt an added pressure to do right by his city, but he knew that they could do it, and that the fact that the people involved with the events of that day enjoyed, and praised the film, meant that the film was a success, though he did urge that they still want people to see it. The Q&A then wrapped up with Berg and Wahlberg joking that their next film may be a rom-com set on a beach, though Wahlberg quickly dispelled by saying that they have a next project, and it is going to be an awesome one, that certainly is not a romantic beach movie.