Reviews, Thriller

Patriots Day


Copyright © 2016 by CBS Films

When two terrorists with Chechen roots set off two home-made explosives in the crowd watching the Boston Marathon in 2013, killing three people and injuring more than 260, police sergeant Tommy Saunders (Mark Wahlberg) searches for clues to apprehend Dzhokhar (Alex Wolff) and Tamerlan Tsarnaev (Themo Melikidze) while heading the official manhunt is FBI special agent Richard DesLauriers (Kevin Bacon) and he is facilitated by Boston police commissioner Ed Davis (John Goodman) and Watertown police sergeant Jeffrey Pugliese (J. K. Simmons).

Third venture in, director Peter Berg and star Wahlberg pair up for a rousing retelling of a real-life American tragedy which they successfully captured a few months back about the 2010 BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Like ‘Deepwater Horizon’, the latest has Berg skillfully placing human connection above action. The various lives introduced are capably downplayed and add the mounting dread of what is to come next.

The docu-drama form is expertly included, inserting a street-level experience which magnifies the tension when the bomb detonates at the finish line and the city goes into a frenzy. The blast is graphic, setting a macabre tone for the rest of the crime procedural. The monstrosity perpetrated is shed through the cold and distant occupants in the Tsarnaev household.

It is their (seeming) isolation from the rest of the community that motivates these brothers into more heinous crimes such as the brutal murder of a young MIT police officer who died defending his weapon & car, carjacking a Chinese student and an all-out strike in Watertown. The carjacking scene in particular deconstructs a momentary look into Dzhokhar and Tamerlan’s motives with conviction delivered in earnestness from the threesome of Wolff, Melikidze and Jimmy O. Yang, the innocent Mercedes-Benz owner.

If you thought ‘Patriots Day’ is shadowing the underrated ‘13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi’, the former’s political undercurrent is less overt. Other than an unsettling interrogation of Tamerlan’s defiant wife by an intimidating agent donning a hijab, Berg has chosen to center on the efforts of real-life people who were instrumental in the arrest of the Islamic radicals and the valor of the victims. Could be deeper but it is still a thoughtful tribute to a united and strong Boston.

Entirety: A-
Acting: A
Plot: A-

Rated R for violence, realistically graphic injury images, language throughout and some drug use

Animation, Reviews



Copyright © 2016 by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Fresh from the police academy, Judy Hopps (Ginnifer Goodwin) joins the force in Zootopia aiming to reduce crimes in the city. Instead, her commanding officer, Chief Bogo (Idris Elba) assigns her to parking duty. Unfazed by the decision, she still does the job admirably. Opportunity arises when a predator’s wife requests the prioritisation of searching for her missing husband. Judy volunteers and is forced to team up with a conniving fox, Nick Wilde (Jason Bateman) as he is last seen with the victim.

What a year it has been for Disney. The most powerful brand in 2016, the reported annual grossing for the collective movies from its in-house division to subsidiaries such as Marvel, Pixar and Lucasfilm is a whopping $7 billion. Beginning the year with its record-breaking numbers is the first megahit, ‘Zootopia’, a timely and irreverent tale about racial prejudice.

Poise to nab a couple more gongs for ‘Best Animated Feature’, a third consecutive win at the Oscars validates Disney’s return as a mighty storyteller capable of rivaling Pixar’s once unblemished history for innovation. As a buddy cop comedy, a whodunit puzzler and an oft-told reminder of remaining true to oneself, ‘Zootopia’ is entertaining to the young and astute for mature viewers.

Taken at face value, the visuals are stunningly animated, the jokes rarely miss (but Judy’s interaction with a sloth incites only a mild giggle that lingers more than it should) and the cast delights with exceptional voicing from Goodwin and Bateman. Like the best on-screen mismatch combos before, the duo’s unlikely partnership pulsates with thumping hilarity.

Judy’s intuitive disposition added with the savoir-faire from Nick as a street hustler, the case comes to a satisfying end but what really deserves praise is the ingenuity of conceptualising a mystery that correlates with xenophobia and its implications. The film jabs the matter eagerly in a period of political unrest and it is comforting to witness the reactions are gloriously positive.

Entirety: A
Acting (Voice): A
Plot: A

Rated PG for some thematic elements, rude humor and action