Mark Wahlberg is pretty much a master of playing gritty real life heroes fighting against violent forces both manmade and natural, and he's back at it again in the historical thriller-slash-drama about the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings, Patriot's Day. He plays a Boston Police Sergeant by the name of Tommy Saunders, who goes on the hunt for the suspects after the bombings on April 15 during the Boston Marathon kill three and injure hundreds more. The historical events are true, but they're also pretty recent. Given that, what does the real Tommy Saunders think of Patriot's Day?
There's no surefire way to answer that, since, although the film itself is based off of true events, the character of Tommy is a composite character, as reported by Heavy and other outlets, and there is no one real Tommy Saunders. Instead, Tommy is based off of a number of different Boston police officers who worked on the day of the bombings.
Although Tommy Saunders is a composite character, the film does depict a number of very real people, many of whom have provided their opinions about the somewhat controversial film. In an article about the movie, the Boston Globe breaks down the characters who were based off of real folks, including former Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis, who is played by John Goodman in the movie. Davis, who said he has "a lot of respect" for Goodman, told the Globe that “I was very happy with how he portrayed my character...They really did get an enormous amount of detail.”
Other real people who were portrayed by actors in the film include Watertown Police Sgt. Jeffrey Pugliese (played by J.K. Simmons), FBI agent Richard DesLauriers (played by Kevin Bacon), Boston Police Commissioner William Evans, and survivors of the bombing Patrick Downes and Jessica Kensky. Pugliese said that “The director and producers went above and beyond [the call of duty] making sure they got it right,” while Downes told the Globe that “We were hesitant about participating in the movie, and we were very honest with [producer Michael] Radutzky and [director] Peter Berg about our concerns." In the end, Downes and Kensky agreed to be portrayed, and Kensky said "We’re a very small part of this movie — a small representation of all the people affected — but it feels like our story comes through.”
Not everyone portrayed in Patriot's Day feels positively about the film, though. Boston Magazine reports that the lawyer representing Katherine Russell, the widow of Boston Marathon bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev, has argued that the characterization of Russell as uncooperative during investigations is "just not true." He said, "I have no objection to them making a movie... What I quarrel with is the license they take in portraying Katie as someone who did not cooperate and try to save lives. She did everything she could.’’
It seems like the film, which will be released on Jan. 13, 2017, is sure to start more conversations in the coming weeks.